Rarely does a day pass that we don’t read or hear a news story related to energy and the environment. And no matter how well-meaning or interested we are, the relevance sometimes still seems distant.
However, there is a reality check for small businesses when they scrutinize and pay their own energy costs. The confetti of news items becomes an expensive boulder that drops on them when having to pay for those energy expenses. As a strong proponent of small business and its role in our New Jersey economy, I was convinced that there was a way to help small businesses deal with this problem and tackle the issue of a cleaner, more sensible energy conservation approach. This is why I have introduced legislation that would help small business to become more energy efficient. When this occurs, it would reduce the costs they must face and result in a cleaner environment for all.
My proposal (A-943) would allow small businesses to qualify for loans with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to allow for energy audits and to make improvements related to energy efficiency and conservation. Current NJ energy efficiency programs favor larger companies over the small businesses that employ the vast majority of New Jersey residents. This common sense initiative to open up these incentive programs will help small businesses reduce one of their most significant cost drivers...energy costs.
Making their locations more energy efficient has the potential to save small businesses thousands of dollars each year. This legislation will go a long way toward helping to keep the costs of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and other similar expenses at a minimum and increasing overall profitability for small businesses in New Jersey.
My legislation has several elements that make it particularly important for small business. The first is scale. We often think of the energy issue as being linked to a larger, macro-economic issue, whether it’s global warming or emissions standards. But in the world where most small-business owners live, they shouldn’t have to face shock value every time they receive a gas or electric bill. In conversations with many business owners during my 7th District Business Spotlight Tours this year, one of the issues they consistently raised was the cost of energy. These rising costs have a direct effect, either leading companies to move, keep them from expanding or hiring new employees.
The implementation of this legislation is straightforward and uncomplicated. Businesses that qualify would apply for a low-interest loans with the Economic Development Authority, along with the Department of Community Affairs and the Board of Public Utilities. These loans would be available to cover unreimbursed costs for an energy audit conducted by a licensed contractor and any expenses that may be recommended as a result of the audit. The low-interest loan would extend to a maximum of 10 years at a maximum rate of 3 percent or half of the prime interest as reported in a financial newspaper in New York City (whichever is greater).
Energy audit provides owners with a clear picture of energy efficiency. This legislation goes a long way toward helping to keep the costs of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and other similar expenses at a minimum and increasingly overall profitability for small businesses in New Jersey.
“Most business owners intuitively know they’re losing energy and thus wasting money,” says energy expert Blaine Fox, director of business development at Cranbury, N.J.-based CMC Energy Services. "An energy audit provides owners with scientific evaluation of the facility and can provide a road map for energy savings, making the building more efficient and saving them money. The good news is that an energy audit will present the recommendation in the form of the highest return on investment.”
Let’s ensure that all small businesses in New Jersey have the opportunity to become more energy efficient. And, we can do it in an economically responsible manner. That’s my take, what’s yours?