New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) is seeking regulatory approval for energy efficiency programs that it says will cost the average customer $8.14/year over 15 years and stimulate the adoption of energy-efficient technologies, such as combined heat and power, as well as the conversion from electric to natural gas heat.

The programs have been developed in line with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative legislation signed into law on Jan. 13, 2008, which encourages utilities in New Jersey to invest in efficiency and renewable energy projects on a regulated basis. NJNG has filed with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) for approval to implement the programs.

Once reviewed and approved by the BPU, the programs will run for three years. If fully subscribed, the cost of the customer incentives will be $102 million to be recovered through NJNG’s current energy efficiency rider. If these programs are approved as filed, customers will see no change in their bill before October 2011. NJNG has requested approval by Oct. 1.

The Residential Energy-Efficiency Program will provide enhanced rebates up to $2,000 to residential customers installing high-efficiency heating, cooling or water-heating equipment and applying for WARM or COOLAdvantage rebates through New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (NJCEP). Customers will be required to take a Home Performance with Energy Star (HPES) audit to be performed by NJNG at no cost. For eligible customers who decide to have an audit performed by an HPES contractor, NJNG will also offer discounted financing for energy-efficiency upgrades installed as a result of the audit.

The utility’s Access to Affordable Energy Pilot (Access) will offer residential electric heat customers, who currently receive at least $50 in electric benefits from the Universal Service Fund (USF), the opportunity to receive an average of $5,000 to convert to high-efficiency natural gas equipment. The USF is a statewide program that offers income-eligible customers financial assistance toward paying electric and natural gas bills.

In an effort to increase the number of commercial customers installing high-efficiency equipment, the Commercial Energy-Efficiency Program will match current rebates available through the SmartStart Building program.

To help further encourage the installation of combined heat and power projects, which draw heat and electricity from a single source such as natural gas, NJNG will also match current incentives available from NJCEP’s Pay for Performance Program. Commercial customers with a peak demand of more than 200 kW in any one month over the previous 12 months will be eligible to participate.

NJNG said it will also launch a new Solar Energy Program to help make renewable energy more accessible and affordable in its service territory. And it plans to offer another new program called Fostering Environmental and Economic Development, which is designed to provide financial assistance for energy-efficiency upgrades and economic development opportunities for commercial and industrial customers.

©Copyright 2010Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.