East Brunswick council fails ordinance for energy program; residents will vote in November

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EAST BRUNSWICK–The Township Council failed to vote, once again, on a revised ordinance that proposes establishing a Community Energy Aggregation Program in East Brunswick.

Before the council failed the ordinance, residents voiced their approval of the ordinance and asked that the council vote to adopt it.

“I just wanted to say that I support the 100% renewal proposal that’s coming up. I think that would be good for the township, it will save money. It will make us healthier, it seems like a smart, a smart move to make,” resident Linda Tanaka said.

Resident Steven Weinberg said he was very glad the council was considering this ordinance for a program the state has enacted and allowed towns to consider.

“I want East Brunswick to be the best place for young families to come and live in, new businesses to start, along with the mayor’s economic development plans. I want it to be seen as a progressive town with a forward-looking agenda and this is a very important piece of that,” Weinberg said. “I hope this is just the beginning of a lot of really good things like this that will make people very attracted to us [and will] put us on the map in terms of communities that are moving in the right direction.”

Resident Hannah Finkelshteyn said that since she is 17, she will not be able to vote on the ballot in November if the council fails to vote on this proposed ordinance.

“I don’t think this is an issue that can wait anymore … and I’m really relying on [the council] right now to vote on this ordinance and start us on a path for a safer future because this is not an issue that is waiting, this is an issue that is continually having more and more disastrous effects,” Hannah said. “It will greatly affect my generation, it’s going to affect everyone my age, it’s going to affect people older, it’s going to affect my little cousins who live in East Brunswick, too.

“It’s something that I’m really concerned about and I think that East Brunswick can afford to take the steps, along with other townships, and get cleaner energy and create a safer future for me and my generation,” she said.

The council failed to vote on the ordinance during the meeting on Aug. 10 via video conference. Council President Sterley Stanley was not present for the meeting.

Township Attorney Michael Baker said that since the council failed to vote on this ordinance, it will be placed on the ballot in November for voters to decide.

This ordinance came about after a committee of petitioners comprised of Dorothy Li, Kathryn Scarbrough, Troy Shinbrot, Jean Mazza and Daniel Ulloa submitted an initiative petition on June 3.

Township Clerk Nennette Perry notified the committee of petitioners that their petition had been reviewed and met the state law requirements on June 23, according to the council.

The ordinance would have amended the municipal code, establishing a Community Energy Aggregation Program that creates an option for 100% regionally sourced renewables.

The mayor is authorized to execute the execution of an Electric Distribution Aggregation Agreement in a form acceptable to the township with PSE&G and/or JCP&L.

In favor of cleaning up the environment, Council Vice President Sharon Sullivan said she would like to thank all those who participated, whether it meant attending the council meetings or working very hard on this ordinance.

“However, I think it’s best that if the residents and I believe, the council believes the same way, if the residents go to vote on this item on the ballot in November, it’s a big thing to opt-in or opt-out and I just think that’s something the residents should decide on,” Sullivan said.

Councilman James Wendell said he fully supports this program but doesn’t believe that it’s the authority or the place of the governing body to be making this change for residents when there’s an option directly to put it on the ballot and let the voters decide.

“I think that we have a lot of other things in front of us and I believe climate change is a very important topic,” Wendell said. “I believe that this should be passed but I would rather see that the voters of this town have the option to review what was going on and make that decision on their own.”

“I’ll let the record show that the ordinance as founded has merit and choice for the East Brunswick residents; however, it is such a significant issue that should be determined by the voters via referendum in November,” Councilman Kevin McEvoy said.

For more information, visit www.eastbrunswick.org/AgendaCenter.

Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].