Community Choice in the Garden State came into being in 1999 as part of the electricity deregulation movement. It was followed by a more specific Government Energy Aggregation Act in 2003, but an opt-in requirement and cost cap stymied the growth of GEAs. Subsequent legislation removed these barriers and the first GEA programs launched in 2012.
New Jersey’s experiment with an opt-in aggregation demonstrated that CCAs really need to be designed as opt-out programs in order to succeed. Only with the automatic enrollment of all customers, except those who opt out, can a CCA reach the critical mass necessary to attract suppliers and succeed as a business.
New aggregation programs are initiated by majority vote of the municipality’s elected body and must be approved by the Board of Public Utilities.
New Jersey now allows the automatic enrollment of residential customers, but it still requires commercial and municipal accounts to opt-in during a specified period.
In 2012 Plumstead Township was the first community to initiate GEA in New Jersey. Other early adopters were Toms River, Montgomery and Monroe Townships. Each of those communities continues to offer GEA to its residents.
As of January, 2017, this list shows the municipalities, by service territory, listed in the state of New Jersey with Government Energy Aggregation Plans.
In June, 2020, the town of Princeton launched Princeton Community Renewable Energy (PCRE), an aggregation program that changes residents’ electricity provider from the utility PSE&G to Constellation NewEnergy. 50% of the electricity Constellation NewEnergy provides to participating households is powered by clean energy (vs. 24% by PSE&G). Residents also have the ability to “opt-up” to a 100% renewable energy product.
Also in June, 2020, Food & Water Action and residents from Edison and East Brunswick submitted more than 3,000 petitions calling on the councils in both towns to create a municipal energy aggregation program that would deliver 100% clean, renewable electricity by the year 2030.
In September, 2020, Red Bank Council (Monmouth County) had a first reading of an ordinance for a Community Energy Aggregation Program that creates an option for the borough to pursue 100-percent renewable energy resources. To read the ordinance, click HERE.
New Jersey’s GEA statute prohibits aggregation if the rate charged to customers isn’t lower than the current default rate charged by the local distribution utility. There is an exception to this if the program includes a higher percentage of green energy than is required by the current New Jersey renewable portfolio standard.
In March 2019, the Sustainable Essex Alliance (SEA) awarded a 17-month cooperative energy contract with Direct Energy to supply cheaper and greener electricity to thousands of residential customers in the five towns participating (Glen Ridge, Maplewood, Montclair, South Orange and Verona). It is estimated that in the first 12 months of the program the aggregate savings for the participating residents in the five towns was nearly $1.9 million. With the current contract with Direct Energy expiring in December, 2020, SEA received price proposals for the next 12 to 24 months in September, 2020 from four energy firms. Disappointingly, the proposals did not meet the SEA pricing criteria relative to the PSE&G rates. SEA’s goals of providing cheaper rates and greener energy than PSE&G could not be met with the proposed prices. Therefore, the SEA rejected all four bids and customers will be switched back to PSE&G service in January, 2021. The SEA plans to solicit bids at a future date when the market becomes more favorable.
CCA-Enabling Legislation: AB 2165
2003 Aggregation Statute (PDF, 10 pages)
Board of Public Utilities (BPU) (Regulates public utilities)
Commercial Utility Consultants (Consultancy that advises NJ communities on creating GEAs.)
Gabel Associates (Consultancy that advises NJ communities on creating GEAs)
Good Energy (Consultancy that advises NJ communities on creating GEAs)
Government Energy Aggregation Summary (PDF, 3 pages, undated)
New Jersey Energy Master Plan (First issued in 2011, the plan has been in the process of being updated from mid-2015 to the present.)
Sustainable Jersey (A program of the NJ League of Municipalities that encourages cities and towns to become more sustainable.)
TriEagle Energy (Retail electricity supplier)