Stimulus Energy Efficiency Grants May Be Slow to Reach States

February 13, 2009
Matternetwork.com

© Matternetwork.com, author John Gartner.

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Attorney Steven Goldenberg of Fox Rothschild said the language in the original version of the legislation explicitly referred to decoupling, so he welcomed changes to the new "wishy washy" wording.

Goldenberg, who represents the New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition as well as renewable energy companies, said the original draft was rewritten because of opposition from decoupling foes. "The law should not be preclude states {without decoupling] from receiving federal funds," he said.

State utility commissioners may be opposing this legislation because of territorial concerns, according to Goldenberg, who at one time was special counsel to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. "There's a natural resistance about being told how to do things that fall in their regulatory jurisdiction."

Exactly what steps a governor must take to provide "assurances" that a state is considering establishing financial incentives for utilities to encourage energy efficiency is unclear. If utility commission action, such as hearings or studies of decoupling are required, "the people of NJ would probably say [federal funding] is not worth it," according to Goldenberg.