Murphy signs bill to create fund for New Jersey school, business improvements

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A new fund created by legislation New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed will upgrade plumbing fixtures, appliances and HVAC systems that do not meet efficiency and health standards.

S-3995 creates the fund and is backed by $180 million from the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) will administer the money, of which 75% is dedicated to schools, while the remaining 25% is dedicated to women and minority-owned small businesses. The grants will cover 75% of eligible costs, and grantees must provide a 25% match.

“Improving the energy efficiency of schools and small businesses will play an important role in meeting Governor Murphy’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050,” NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso said in an announcement.

“In too many cases outdated energy infrastructure is not only expensive, it can also create an unhealthy indoor environment, particularly during the COVID pandemic,” Fiordaliso added. “In addition to the health and economic factors, this program will provide a boost to the state’s clean energy economy by creating jobs and enhancing small businesses.”

Under the measure, the BPU must start soliciting applications for grants by Oct. 1, and the agency must start approving grants by Dec. 1. The BPU will specify the size and type of businesses eligible for the grants.

According to a news release, 75% of the money will go to businesses and schools in “underserved communities.”

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