It feels good to be able to say it: We won.
Thanks to a dedicated crew of organizers and volunteers who spent weeks going door to door to build support, the New Brunswick City Council voted unanimously on August 15 to support our ordinance to create a 100 percent renewable community energy program.
Here’s how it happened, why it matters, and why your community could be next.
Thanks to a state law in New Jersey called the Government Energy Aggregation Act, municipalities can set up their own bulk purchasing arrangements for electricity. Several communities have already done so, based on the premise that buying in bulk lowers costs for residents.
We decided we wanted to see our home city take up this challenge—but do so in a way that helps build the clean energy revolution necessary to combat climate change and protect our air and water. So we drafted a petition calling for the city to enact an ordinance creating the New Brunswick Community Energy Aggregation program (NBCEA), which would purchase electricity from clean, renewable sources. It would set a goal of 30% renewable by 2020, reaching 50% by 2024 and 100% by 2035. That’s in line with the federal Off Fossil Fuels Act (OFF Act), and it's faster than Governor Murphy's stated goal of reaching 100% renewable by 2050.
We hit the streets and gathered signatures from hundreds of residents, which sent the matter directly to the City Council. If they had voted no, the matter would have gone to the ballot, and voters would decide the fate of their city's clean energy plan.
Why This is Big
The Council’s decision to throw its support behind this bold step catapults New Brunswick to the forefront of the clean energy fight in New Jersey. How so? This isn’t a toothless statement knocking the Trump administration or vowing to support an international climate agreement. This is a binding ordinance with clear timelines and real momentum behind it. There are still plenty of details to be ironed out, but we think it’s safe to say that New Brunswick has now committed to creating the most aggressive clean energy program in the state.
This isn’t a toothless statement knocking the Trump administration or vowing to support an international climate agreement. This is a binding ordinance with clear timelines and real momentum behind it.
And here’s the best part: Other communities can borrow from our playbook and create their own plans with the same goals. There’s no reason to think that residents of other towns in New Jersey wouldn’t want to jump in and create a community energy system that says no to dirty fossil fuels.
That’s not to say it’s easy work. The team that collected signatures can attest to that. We canvassed in the heat and the pouring rain, sacrificing some sneakers in the process. But that’s how our most important victories are won—through hard work. Which town in New Jersey is next?