EAST BRUNSWICK – A strong majority of East Brunswick residents voted in favor of a ballot question to create a township-wide renewable energy aggregation program.
The vote count, as of 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, shows the ballot question was supported by more than 70% of voters, or 11,273 votes, compared to 4,520 who opposed. Mail-in and provisional ballots still need to be counted. The election results will not be certified until at least Nov. 20.
Food & Water Watch worked with local residents to collect petition signatures calling on the East Brunswick Township Council to create a municipal energy aggregation program that would reach the 100% renewable goal by the year 2030.
The council opted to leave the final decision up to the voters, making this the second time in state history that voters directly approved the creation of such a program; the first happened last November in Piscataway.
“I’m glad the referendum has passed. East Brunswick is now a champion in the fight against climate change at the local level,” Dan Ulloa, a community leader and member of the committee of petitioners for the initiative, said in a statement provided by Food & Water Watch on Nov. 4.
“Hooray for East Brunswick! I’m looking forward to saving money and helping the climate at the same time,” Kathy Scarborough, a local activist and member of the committee of petitioners, said in the statement.
“This is a win for our climate, a win for clean air, and a win for grassroots democracy,” Food & Water Watch canvass director Charlie Kratovil said in the statement. “Communities all across the state are showing that we can take bold climate action at the local level. We need our state and federal representatives to follow their lead.”
The ordinance creates a new municipal energy aggregation program, in effect giving residents a bulk buying discount on their electricity bills. The program sets guidelines about the sources of that electricity, reaching the 100% renewable energy threshold by the year 2030.
PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, but renewable electricity created outside of the PJM grid cannot be directly utilized by residents, according to the prior reports in the Sentinel.
Prioritizing the generation of renewable electricity in the region served by the PJM grid will help improve local air quality, improve public health impacts, and decrease costs, according to the reports.
In accordance with the state’s Government Energy Aggregation Act, the township seeks to establish a Government Energy Aggregation Program for the provision of electricity within the township for the purpose of obtaining power supply cost savings for residential and business participants in the township, according to the reports.
The township, from time to time, will request proposals from electric power suppliers for electric generation services through the program, in which the township and its authorized personnel will be lead agents in administering the township’s Community Energy Aggregation Program, according to the reports.
East Brunswick now joins the growing movement of towns and cities who are leading the movement to get off fossil fuels and onto a healthier future powered by clean energy. Food & Water Watch is working in 15 municipalities to enact similar 100% renewable energy programs, according to the statement. The group played a key role in creating programs in New Brunswick and Piscataway, saving residents’ on their utility bills while expanding the use of clean, renewable energy.
This summer, the campaign won a major victory in Edison, where the township’s council approved an ordinance that puts the fifth-largest township in New Jersey on the path to 100% renewable electricity by 2030, according to the statement. Earlier this month, local residents teamed up with Food & Water Watch to pass a similar clean energy ordinance in Collingswood, and the Red Bank council voted to create a new 100% renewable energy program last month.
- Staff writer Vashti Harris contributed to this story.