'Realizing Tomorrow's Potential' A Look Back On Our 2017 New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference

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The New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference is where state leaders and local officials from across New Jersey's 565 municipalities and 21 counties gather to discuss the year ahead.

The annual affair, which this year features the theme “Realizing Tomorrow's Potential,” invites guests of the event to “learn as much as they can” with three days of breakout sessions on topics ranging from cyber-security to pension and heath benefit reform.

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Sustainable Jersey

This year's event featured a number of breakout sessions hosted by Sustainable Jersey, a nonprofit organization that plays an important role in fulfilling New Jersey's sustainability goals.

With 89% of New Jersey's population living in a Sustainable Jersey certified municipality, the organization encourages communities to pursue sustainability programs in an effort to reduce waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and improve environmental equality.

There's a financial and recognition component woven in, too, as actions taken by a municipality are tracked, tallied, and submitted for points towards bronze, silver or gold certifications and access to grants and financial incentives to support other sustainability projects.

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Who Was There & What Was The Agenda?

The guest list was stacked with elected officials as a mix of Mayors and Council Members came together with employees of cities, states, towns, and boroughs for three days of intensive meetings, workshops and networking events.

On the third day of the event, guests made their way to a corner of the fourth-floor meeting space at the Atlantic City Convention Center where Sustainable Jersey hosted a breakout session focused on ways to conduct effective outreach of energy efficiency programs.

Our Session

Summit Mayor Nora Radest presided over the session and was one of several panelists who underwent a Ciel Home Energy Assessment.  Summit-based Hometowne TV lent its efforts to the Mayor's home energy audit with coverage of the event on the inaugural episode of “See You Around Town.”

Panelists

Beth Lovejoy, Chairperson of the Summit Environmental Commission and Christine Symington, Program Director of Sustainable Princeton joined the group of panelists to discuss the City of Summit's Home Energy Insight Program and Princeton's EnergySmart Homes program.

Michael Thulen from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Tony O'Donnell, an Economist with Sustainable Jersey, and Scott Fischer, Managing Member of Ciel Power LLC rounded out the panel of speakers.

Introduction

The presentation started at 9:00 A.M. with Summit Mayor Nora Radest welcoming attendees and introducing the morning's first speaker Tony O'Donnell, an Economist at Sustainable Jersey.

Performance Statistics

O'Donnell quickly set the tone for the meeting, citing statistics that showed a 6.8 fold average increase in household participation in New Jersey's Home Performance with Energy Star Incentive program for municipalities that engaged the Sustainable Jersey Home Performance with Energy Star Municipal Program Action Item.

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To obtain these numbers, Sustainable Jersey compared NJHPwES participation rates for two years leading up to the launch of the municipal outreach program against participation rates that occurring while the municipal energy efficiency outreach campaign was underway.

The specific municipalities included Glen Rock, Highland Park, Millburn, Princeton, Watchung, and Woodbridge, New Jersey, each current or former outreach programs administered by Ciel Power LLC.

Ours & Other NJ Clean Energy Incentive Programs

Michael Thulen, ESIP Coordinator for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities addressed the crowd next offering an overview of the wide assortment of energy efficiency incentive programs available through New Jersey's Clean Energy program including:

Summit

Shortly after Mike's remarks, Beth Lovejoy, Chairperson of Summit's Environmental Commission, and Scott Fischer, Managing Member of Ciel Power LLC recounted their efforts behind the creation of Summit's Home Energy Insight program, a residential energy efficiency outreach program designed to promote awareness and participation in New Jersey's Home Performance with Energy Star program.

Program Benefits:

  • A single, vetted, municipally-endorsed provider
  • A highly-discounted rate for home energy audits
  • Comprehensive safety household safety testing
  • A strong likelihood of improved comfort & energy efficiency upon the completion of the project
  • Cash-back and financing incentives available to help offset the cost of the recommended upgrades.

A Personal Note

Beth Lovejoy interrupted her remarks for a moment saying;

"I'm taking off my Summit Environmental Chairperson hat and putting on my homeowner hat.”

to indicate that the upcoming remarks were not being offered as a representative of Summit, but rather a non-official capacity.  She continued;

“My personal experience with everyone on the Ciel team was very positive. There were three rooms in my home that were always very cold during the winter.” She said, “John, my Ciel Home Energy Auditor, used blower door testing and another device that shows temperature as color [an infra-red camera] to figure out why.”
“We had Ciel install the work they recommended and these rooms have been much more comfortable since. During our project, Ciel's team arrived on-time, was very respectful of our home, and cleaned up after themselves at the end of each work day.”

Princeton

Later that morning, Christine Symington took the microphone to discuss the more than 175 home energy audits performed in Princeton as part of Sustainable Princeton's EnergySmart campaign.

More than 35 Princeton homeowners installed energy efficiency upgrades as part of this campaign.

A follow-up survey indicated the following reasons that residents of Princeton heeded the recommendations and installed upgrades:

  • Improve Home Comfort: 38%
  • Reduce Energy Use: 38%
  • Reduce Energy Bills 19%
  • Other 5%

Symington also indicated that the survey results obtained by Sustainable Princeton revealed that the incentives available through the New Jersey Home Performance with Energy Star program were an important reason for respondents to request a home energy audit and were an integral part of the program's success.