The MCSC announced that they were awarded a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey Hub grant.  The grant is intended to help the local Mercer County business community tap into state funds for energy upgrades while improving their bottom lines and helping the environment.

The objective of the grant proposal is to create a coordinated and regional energy efficiency outreach campaign across Mercer County.  The focus of the outreach campaign is to help Mercer County small businesses in the participating towns to improve their overall energy efficiency.  The goal is to advance and increase the participation of Mercer County small businesses in the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ (NJBPU) Direct Install Energy Efficiency program.

Direct Install offers free energy audits to small business to assess their energy systems and costs.  The program recommends upgrades that will save the small business on their future energy bills.  The program can provide up to 70% of the cost to upgrade the business’ energy systems.  Payback of the remaining 30% is typically a couple of years.   The entire process including the audit, construction and getting the incentive is completed in as little as 4 months.

Less than 5% of the small businesses in the participating Mercer County towns have availed themselves of the NJBPU’s energy efficiency program.[1]  20% of these projects have been undertaken by local governments in Mercer County.

The Direct install program is designed to save businesses on the users’ energy bills.  The development and implementation of the Direct Install program is funded by a small mandatory charge on everyone’s electric and natural gas bill.

The participating MCSC municipal green teams will help to recruit Clean Energy Corps (CEC) outreach teams from local colleges, public and private school, and other organizations.  Working with Tri-State Lighting, the Mercer County Direct Install contractor, the municipal green teams, and the CEC outreach teams will go out to the small business to describe the program and its benefits.  The CEC outreach team will answer the small businesses questions on-site and help the business apply to take advantage of the Direct Install energy efficiency program.

Several outreach activities are planned for the next year including meetings with the local Chamber of Commerce and articles in the local press about the program.

[1] The participating Mercer County project team members include: Lawrence Township Green Team, Sustainable Lawrence, Hopewell Valley Green Team (including Pennington Township and Hopewell Township and Boro), Sustainable Princeton, Ewing Green Team, Hightstown Green Team, West Windsor Green Team, East Windsor Green Team, and Tri-State Lighting and Energy.