Honorable Chair and Members of the Telecommunication and Utilities Committee, thank you for providing me with an opportunity to speak on this crucial matter. My name is Emma Horst-Martz and I am an advocate with NJPIRG - the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group. NJPIRG is a statewide non-profit organization working to protect consumers. Today, I am here representing our members from across New Jersey.
I would like to thank Chairman DeAngelo for sponsoring and Assemblyman Mukherji for cosponsoring this important piece of legislation. NJPIRG supports A5160 because it will reduce monthly utility bills for consumers and lower harmful emissions in the air.
In 2018, two thirds of the energy consumed in the United States was wasted; for consumers, this is money down the drain. Updating appliance efficiency standards is one of the most accessible energy efficiency policies for consumers. It simply means that when I go to the store to buy a new showerhead, the options I see on the shelf will all meet the mark to use less water. This legislation is about improving the options consumers are presented with.
The savings are significant and will increase over time as more customers buy and use the most efficient appliances. By 2026 these updated efficiency standards would save enough electricity to power 32,000 homes a year, and would save enough water to meet the needs of 77,000 households. This adds up to $132 million in savings per year for New Jersey consumers.
While most consumers could benefit from lower monthly utility bills, low income households will feel these positive changes more acutely. Low income households in the Mid-Atlantic region spend almost 10% of their income on energy bills - 3 times what middle and upper income households spend. High energy burdens impact people of color even more. For example, Black households in New Jersey spend 43 percent more of their income on energy costs than white households.
Lifting the energy burden weighing on families is an important part of working towards a more energy-efficient future, and updated appliance standards will help drive that goal. Equally important is the reduction in emissions, which have negative health consequences for consumers. By 2026, updated appliance standards will save 178,000 metric tons of CO2- the equivalent of taking 72,000 cars off the road. This clean energy policy is not expensive, nor does it require significant effort or investment from consumers. The positive health benefits of cleaner air will simply come from improved options on store shelves.
Passing A5160 into law would ensure that we save energy, water and consumer dollars. By implementing better appliance efficiency standards, we can make meaningful progress toward reducing energy burdens, generating big savings for consumers, and cleaning the air we breathe.
Thank you Chairman DeAngelo and members of the committee.