Democratic Bill to Promote Cost-Cutting Small Business Improvements Clears Assembly

March 10, 2015

Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway Jr., Paul Moriarty, Jerry Green, Pamela Lampitt and Vincent Mazzeo sponsored to facilitate cost-effective environmentally friendly improvements for small businesses gained approval from the Assembly on Monday.

"Making their locations more energy efficient has the potential to save small businesses thousands of dollars each year," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "This legislation will go a long way toward helping to keep the costs of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and other similar expenses at a minimum and increasing overall profitability for small businesses in New Jersey."

The bill (A-943) would permit small businesses to qualify for New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) loans to cover the costs of conducting energy audits and making energy efficiency and conservation improvements.

"Energy efficiency upgrades can reduce operating costs for small businesses while also making them eligible for the additional benefit of tax credits," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "In coupling the advantages for our economy and our environment, this bill presents a simple yet significant way to move New Jersey forward."

In consultation with the Department of Community Affairs and the Board of Public Utilities, the NJEDA would be permitted to establish and administer low-interest loans to small businesses for 100 percent of any unreimbursed costs of an energy audit conducted by a licensed contractor and for 100 percent of any unreimbursed costs of the purchase and installation of energy or conservation equipment deemed necessary as a result of the energy audit.

The bill defines a "low-interest loan" as a loan for a maximum 10-year term at a maximum rate of either 3 percent or one-half of the prime interest rate reported in a financial newspaper published and circulating in New York City, whichever is greater.

"For most small businesses, energy costs rank among the top operating expenses, so keeping those bills as low as possible can make a real difference for a business's bottom line," said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). "This legislation will help businesses reduce their costs as well as their carbon footprints."

"More and more, entrepreneurs are realizing that environmental leadership is fundamental to an effective modern business model," said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). "Regardless of whether they are primarily motivated by saving the environment or by saving money, this bill will enable small business owners to rein in on wasteful practices."

"As we move toward an economy in which sustainability is increasingly a principal factor, it's becoming clear that going green can help a small business stay in the black," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "By supporting energy efficient transitions for New Jersey's small businesses, this legislation will give New Jersey's economy a competitive edge, and it will also be essential in our fight against climate change."

"Like small business owners all over the state, I'm constantly thinking about how to manage costs effectively so that ultimately I can both make payroll and provide customers with the best service," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), owner of B.F. Mazzeo. "Through this legislation, small business owners in New Jersey will be able to save on operating costs and market to a client base that values environmental sustainability."

The measure, which passed 60-14-1, now awaits further consideration in the Senate.

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