The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) has fully committed the $180 million budgeted for the School and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program (SSBP), aimed at helping schools and small businesses reduce their water and energy consumption and improve indoor air quality for children and small businesses. The program is closed and no longer accepting applications.
“Through the Schools and Small Business grant program, we are putting the health of our children first and ensuring small businesses have access to the tools they need to streamline energy and water use and improve indoor air quality in their establishments,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “As we rise to the challenges of climate change and the ongoing pandemic, these grants will enable the direct benefits of cleaner facilities, as well as the economic boost in local labor needed to complete these projects, especially in underserved communities.”
The program provides grants that enable recipients to enhance or replace outdated HVAC and plumbing systems, meet health standards, and improve building operating efficiency and use.
In accordance with the bill, which Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law in August 2021, $135 million, or up to 75 percent, of the total funds committed are going to schools and small businesses in underserved communities.
The SSBP supports Gov. Murphy’s goal of having New Jersey use 100 percent clean energy by 2035. HVAC and plumbing systems that are new or that have been optimized operate more efficiently and are better for the environment.
Under the SSB program projects have been completed in the Jackson Township School District ($200,000); The Therapy Gym ($200,000) and the Bridgeton School District ($80,000). Among the projects underway are schools in the Millville School District ($5M); Egg Harbor Township ($4.8M); and the Pennsauken School District ($4.8M). A total of 350 projects have been approved.
The grants provided by this federally funded program cover up to 75 percent of the costs of upgrading those systems, with the recipients responsible for obtaining outside funding for the remaining costs. “As one of the prime sponsors of the law that established the School and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program, I am incredibly proud that it has been so successful,” said Senator Troy Singleton. “This program is providing the necessary funding to allow these already cash-strapped businesses and school districts to upgrade their HVAC and plumbing systems, which will improve the air our residents breathe and the water they drink overall.”
“I am happy to see the continuing positive impact of this legislation. One thing we learned during the pandemic was the importance of clean, safe air and drinking water, but for far too many schools and small businesses in New Jersey, a lack of resources and the continued economic toll of the pandemic have put necessary repairs and updates out of reach,” said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington).
“Grants made available through the Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program will help address long-term issues, allowing facilities to make system updates that reduce energy consumption costs and improve indoor air quality,” continued Lampitt. “I am proud to have sponsored legislation that prioritizes the well-being of New Jersey’s children and assists local businesses. The investments we are making now will benefit our schools and businesses for years to come.”