NJSEM Takes Initiative to Help Members Achieve their Sustainability Goals and Reduce their Carbon Footprint

The U.S. Government and United Nations have recently released reports highlighting the contribution of fossil fuel combustion towards increases in greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), and the impact of climate change on our health and economy. In late May 2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency announced rules changes, intended to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by approximately 20% from current levels by 2020. The current New Jersey Energy Master Plan sets an electric energy portfolio goal of 20% renewable by 2020.
At the local level, many municipalities in New Jersey have adopted plans and taken measures to promote sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint. The New Jersey Sustainable Energy Joint Meeting (NJSEM) has taken the initiative to support and further these efforts: NJSEM has created new procurement specifications that have resulted in greater amounts of renewable energy sources to be included as a part of our members' total electricity usage.

NJSEM's Efforts to Reduce CO2

Beginning with the bid for electric power supply conducted in December, 2013, NJSEM required bidding suppliers to include approximately 21% renewable energy in their supply portfolios. This bid included NJSEM member accounts in PSEG service territory on the GLP tariff and a few JCPL accounts as well. This increased amount of "green energy" is approximately 50% higher than the mandated amount of renewable energy set forth in New Jersey's Renewable Portfolio Standards. In addition, NJSEM required that all of the additional renewable energy above and beyond the State-mandated amounts come from Class I renewable energy facilities that include wind energy and landfill gas to energy plants, which are located within the PJM power grid that provides power to New Jersey. In this way we are assured that resultant environmental benefits are achieved in our region.

In total, NJSEM has purchased approximately 3,250 megawatt hours of green energy, above and beyond the amount of renewable energy required by the State of New Jersey. The resultant reductions in our members' aggregate carbon footprint as a result of this green initiative is approximately 4,550 equivalent tons of carbon. According to EPA standards, this equates to approximately 10 million miles driven in a passenger vehicle or the electricity used in 570 homes. Or put another way, it's equal to the carbon sequestered by 106 thousand tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

The best part: Even with a renewable energy component that is 50% greater than the State-mandated amounts, through the buying power of our large aggregation group, NJSEM members still saved in excess of 10% on their power supply costs.

Making the Effort Count

We are working with Sustainable Jersey as they develop a point system that specifically recognizes and rewards municipalities that include additional renewable energy in their supply portfolio, and we designed our contract specifications in way that would enhance the acceptability of type and sources of renewable energy procured by NJSEM in the Sustainable Jersey point system.

With all of our current power supply contracts scheduled to expire in June 2015, NJSEM is planning to expand our inclusion of renewable energy in future power supply procurements.

Please contact us at www.njsem.org to obtain more information on NJSEM's renewable energy procurement practices, and how our sustainability initiative scan benefit you, particularly if you are a participant in Sustainable Jersey.

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