BPU opens applications for new round of energy grants

Will be new round of Community Energy Plan Grants — and 1st round of Community Energy Plan Implementation Program

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities on Tuesday opened the application windows for the third year of the Community Energy Plan Grant Program and the first year of the new Community Energy Plan Implementation Program.

The CEPG and CEPI programs empower local communities to create and implement community energy plans that align with the state’s Energy Master Plan, which is the roadmap to achieving Gov. Phil Murphy’s clean energy and emissions reductions goals. A total of nearly $8 million is available, with $4.5 million earmarked for the CEPG Program and $3.4 million earmarked for the CEPI Program in Fiscal Year 2024.

Funds have been budgeted from the state’s Clean Energy Program and are supplemented by the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.

“We are excited for year three of our CEPG Program and to kick off the first year of CEPI,” BPU President Christine Guhl-Sadovy said. “Directing funds to the local level, particularly to overburdened municipalities, will allow the projects that are most effective for those communities to move forward as we battle the effects of climate change statewide.”

The BPU board created the CEPG Program in 2019, with year one of the CEPG program providing grants to three local governments and year two of the program redesigned to expand funding availability to overburdened municipalities. As a result, 46 grants were awarded in year two, with more than half awarded to overburdened municipalities.

The newly created CEPI program was designed to complement the existing CEPG program by providing funds to implement projects identified within community energy plans. Administered by NJBPU’s Office of Clean Energy Equity, both programs focus on helping New Jersey’s overburdened municipalities.

The CEPG program allows overburdened municipalities to be eligible for larger grants; while all towns are eligible for $10,000, those deemed overburdened are eligible for $25,000. In addition, in partnership with NJBPU, Sustainable Jersey provides enhanced technical assistance to CEPG and CEPI applicants, with a particular focus on overburdened municipalities, including preparation of applications and development of community energy plans.

Both of these programs encourage communities to create and implement localized community energy plans to combat climate change, with a specific focus on equitable access, energy resilience, renewable energy and efficiency. Municipalities that do not have a community energy plan are encouraged to apply for year three of the CEPG program. Municipalities with community energy plans are encouraged to apply for the CEPI program to support local clean energy actions.

For municipalities that would like to participate in either program, applications for both programs are available here. The application window will be open until Feb. 23, 2024.