Since Hurricane Sandy exposed the vulnerability of New Jersey’s antiquated power grid, the state has been investing heavily in enhancing the grid’s resilience and promoting clean energy technologies to upgrade to a smarter, more flexible system that can keep people safe and warm when they need it most.
However, as I explain in my NJ Spotlight op-ed published today, limited public funds alone will not be enough to build the state’s clean energy future.
Private capital investment is key to establishing the large-scale, clean energy markets needed to ultimately save customers money, increase grid resiliency, and slash harmful pollution.
New Jersey has already made a step in the right direction with the launch of the Energy Resilience Bank, which was set up with $210 million of federal funds to finance resilient energy systems operating the state’s critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Moving forward, the state should begin laying the groundwork to leverage available public funds to access private capital to expand the market for technologies and improve grid resilience. New Jersey might follow Connecticut’s lead, for instance, whose green bank was able to turn every dollar in system benefits charges (a small surcharge on customers’ electricity bills used to finance energy efficiency and clean energy programs) into three dollars of private capital.
The Energy Resilience Bank could enhance its financing capacity by fully harnessing the potential of private capital, enabling it to expand its range of products and types of projects. New Jersey has taken steps to address grid vulnerability and now it must ensure it has adequate resources to get the job done. Accessing private capital is the most effective way to do so.
My full op-ed is available on NJ Spotlight.