Bill Text: NJ A3139 | 2022-2023 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Directs NJ Infrastructure Bank to establish financing program for electric school buses; allocates $20 million annually in societal benefits charge revenues to NJ Infrastructure Bank for purposes of program.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 2-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2022-03-07 - Introduced, Referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee [A3139 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2022-A3139-Introduced.html

ASSEMBLY, No. 3139

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

220th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MARCH 7, 2022

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  ROBERT J. KARABINCHAK

District 18 (Middlesex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Directs NJ Infrastructure Bank to establish financing program for electric school buses; allocates $20 million annually in societal benefits charge revenues to NJ Infrastructure Bank for purposes of program.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning electric school buses, supplementing Title 58 of the Revised Statutes, and amending P.L.1999, c.23.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section) As used in sections 1 through 6 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill):

     "Board" means the Board of Public Utilities.

     "Electric school bus" means the same as the term is defined in section 1 of P.L.2019, c.384 (C.39:3B-28).

     "Overburdened community" means the same as the term is defined in section 2 of P.L.2020, c.92 (C.13:1D-158).

     "School district" means any local or regional school district established pursuant to chapters 8 or 13 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

     "Trust" means the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank, created pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1985, c.334 (C.58:11B-4).

 

     2.    (New section) a.  Within one year after the effective date of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the trust shall establish a program, to be known as the Electric School Bus Financing Program, to provide loans and other forms of financial assistance, as the trust deems appropriate and subject to available funding, to school districts to finance the purchase of electric school buses in lieu of, or to replace, diesel-powered school buses for the daily transportation of students, and the purchase and installation of related electric school bus charging infrastructure.

      b.  There is established in the trust a special, nonlapsing fund to be known as the Electric School Bus Financing Fund.  Monies in the fund shall be used by the trust only to provide loans and other forms of financial assistance to school districts pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The fund shall be credited with:

      (1)  moneys transferred to the trust from the board pursuant to subsection c. of section 12 of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-60);

      (2)  any federal funds apportioned and allocated to the State for the financing of electric school buses;

      (3)  any other moneys appropriated by the Legislature or otherwise made available to the trust for the purposes of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill);

      (4)  moneys obtained from the payment of interest assessed on, and the repayment of principal of, any loans made pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill); and

      (5)  any interest earnings or other investment income earned or received on the moneys in the fund.

      c.  The trust may apply for federal funds made available for the financing of electric school buses; however, the repayment of principal and interest on any federal funds for which the trust applies and receives pursuant to this subsection shall be the responsibility of the borrowers of trust loans issued utilizing those federal funds, and in no way shall be the responsibility of the State of New Jersey.

 

     3.    (New section) a.  A school district seeking financial assistance for the purchase of an electric school bus or the purchase and installation of related electric school bus charging infrastructure shall submit an application to the board in a form and manner as determined by the board, in consultation with the trust.  The board, in consultation with the trust, shall develop criteria for the approval or disapproval of applications pursuant to this section.

      b.  As part of the application process, the board shall require the school district to perform an energy assessment of the school district's current fleet of school buses.  The assessment shall:  compare the costs of acquiring, operating, and maintaining an electric school bus versus those for a diesel-powered school bus; identify the potential environmental benefits of using electric school buses within that school district; and identify potential savings that may be realized over the estimated useful life of the electric school bus. 

      c.  Upon approval of an application by the board pursuant to this section, the board shall submit a certification of application approval to the trust.  Subject to the availability of funds, the trust may make and contract to make loans or other forms of financial assistance, as the trust deems appropriate, to the applicant to finance all or a portion of the costs of the purchase of an electric school bus or the purchase and installation of related electric school bus charging infrastructure, as identified in the certification of application approval issued by the board, provided that the project is listed on a "Electric School Bus Financing Program Project Priority List" submitted to the Legislature pursuant to section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

      Loans and other forms of financial assistance provided pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be made subject to such terms and conditions as the trust shall deem appropriate.  A school district receiving financial assistance from the trust pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) may use performance and operational savings realized from the purchase and use of an electric school bus or related charging infrastructure in order to repay a loan issued pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

      4.  (New section) a.  The board, in consultation with the trust, shall develop criteria for the ranking of applications received for funding and specifications for the types of electric school buses and related charging infrastructure eligible for financing pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The criteria shall provide priority ranking for school districts located in overburdened communities. 

      b.  The board shall set forth an "Electric School Bus Financing Program Project Priority List" for funding by the trust each fiscal year.  This list shall identify each project for which the board issued a certification of application approval and shall include the aggregate amount of funds that the trust is authorized to expend for the purposes of the Electric School Bus Financing Program.  The board shall submit the project priority list to the Legislature, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), at least once in each fiscal year.  A project shall be eligible for funding pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) only if it is identified on a project priority list.

 

      5.  (New section) No later than one year after the first loan or other form of financial assistance is made pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), and for each succeeding year in which such financial assistance is made, the board, in conjunction with the trust, shall prepare and submit a report to the Governor and, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), to the Legislature, on the effectiveness of the Electric School Bus Financing Program in promoting the purchase of electric school buses and related charging infrastructure by school districts.  The report shall, at a minimum:  identify each school district that received a loan or other financial assistance pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill); describe the electric school buses and related charging infrastructure purchased; and provide an analysis of the environmental benefits achieved from the purchase and use of electric school buses.  The report may also include any recommendations for legislative changes that may improve the effectiveness of the Electric School Bus Financing Program.

 

     6.  (New section) The board, in conjunction with the trust, shall adopt, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), any rules and regulations as are necessary to implement the provisions of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     7.  Section 12 of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-60) is amended to read as follows:

      12.  a.    Simultaneously with the starting date for the implementation of retail choice as determined by the board pursuant to subsection a. of section 5 of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-53), the board shall permit each electric public utility and gas public utility to recover some or all of the following costs through a societal benefits charge that shall be collected as a non-bypassable charge imposed on all electric public utility customers and gas public utility customers, as appropriate:

      (1)  The costs for the social programs for which rate recovery was approved by the board prior to April 30, 1997.  For the purpose of establishing initial unbundled rates pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-52), the societal benefits charge shall be set to recover the same level of social program costs as is being collected in the bundled rates of the electric public utility on the effective date of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-49 et al.).  The board may subsequently order, pursuant to its rules and regulations, an increase or decrease in the societal benefits charge to reflect changes in the costs to the utility of administering existing social programs.  Nothing in P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-49 et al.) shall be construed to abolish or change any social program required by statute or board order or rule or regulation to be provided by an electric public utility.  Any such social program shall continue to be provided by the utility until otherwise provided by law, unless the board determines that it is no longer appropriate for the electric public utility to provide the program, or the board chooses to modify the program;

      (2)  Nuclear plant decommissioning costs;

      (3)  The costs of demand side management programs that were approved by the board pursuant to its demand side management regulations prior to April 30, 1997.  For the purpose of establishing initial unbundled rates pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-52), the societal benefits charge shall be set to recover the same level of demand side management program costs as is being collected in the bundled rates of the electric public utility on the effective date of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-49 et al.).  Within four months of the effective date of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-49 et al.), and every four years thereafter, the board shall initiate a proceeding and cause to be undertaken a comprehensive resource analysis of energy programs, and within eight months of initiating such proceeding and after notice, provision of the opportunity for public comment, and public hearing, the board, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall determine the appropriate level of funding for energy efficiency, plug-in electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and Class I renewable energy programs that provide environmental benefits above and beyond those provided by standard offer or similar programs in effect as of the effective date of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-49 et al.); provided that the funding for such programs be no less than 50 percent of the total Statewide amount being collected in electric and gas public utility rates for demand side management programs on the effective date of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-49 et al.) for an initial period of four years from the issuance of the first comprehensive resource analysis following the effective date of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-49 et al.), and provided that 25 percent of this amount shall be used to provide funding for Class I renewable energy projects in the State.  In each of the following fifth through eighth years, the Statewide funding for such programs shall be no less than 50 percent of the total Statewide amount being collected in electric and gas public utility rates for demand side management programs on the effective date of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-49 et al.), except that as additional funds are made available as a result of the expiration of past standard offer or similar commitments, the minimum amount of funding for such programs shall increase by an additional amount equal to 50 percent of the additional funds made available, until the minimum amount of funding dedicated to such programs reaches $140,000,000 total.  After the eighth year the board shall make a determination as to the appropriate level of funding for these programs.  Such programs shall include a program to provide financial incentives for the installation of Class I renewable energy projects in the State, and the board, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall determine the level and total amount of such incentives as well as the renewable technologies eligible for such incentives which shall include, at a minimum, photovoltaic, wind, and fuel cells.  The board shall simultaneously determine, as a result of the comprehensive resource analysis, the programs to be funded by the societal benefits charge, the level of cost recovery and performance incentives for old and new programs and whether the recovery of demand side management programs' costs currently approved by the board may be reduced or extended over a longer period of time.  The board shall make these determinations taking into consideration existing market barriers and environmental benefits, with the objective of transforming markets, capturing lost opportunities, making energy services more affordable for low income customers and eliminating subsidies for programs that can be delivered in the marketplace without electric public utility and gas public utility customer funding;

      (4)  Manufactured gas plant remediation costs, which shall be determined initially in a manner consistent with mechanisms in the remediation adjustment clauses for the electric public utility and gas public utility adopted by the board; and

      (5)  The cost, of consumer education, as determined by the board, which shall be in an amount that, together with the consumer education surcharge imposed on electric power supplier license fees pursuant to subsection h. of section 29 of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-78) and the consumer education surcharge imposed on gas supplier license fees pursuant to subsection g. of section 30 of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-79), shall be sufficient to fund the consumer education program established pursuant to section 36 of P.L.1999, c.23 (C.48:3-85).

      b.   There is established in the Board of Public Utilities a nonlapsing fund to be known as the "Universal Service Fund."  The board shall determine: the level of funding and the appropriate administration of the fund; the purposes and programs to be funded with monies from the fund; which social programs shall be provided by an electric public utility as part of the provision of its regulated services which provide a public benefit; whether the funds appropriated to fund the "Lifeline Credit Program" established pursuant to P.L.1979, c.197 (C.48:2-29.15 et seq.), the "Tenants' Lifeline Assistance Program" established pursuant to P.L.1981, c.210 (C.48:2-29.31 et seq.), the funds received pursuant to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program established pursuant to 42 U.S.C. s.8621 et seq., and funds collected by electric and natural gas utilities, as authorized by the board, to offset uncollectible electricity and natural gas bills should be deposited in the fund; and whether new charges should be imposed to fund new or expanded social programs.

      c.   Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, or any rule, regulation, or order adopted pursuant thereto, to the contrary, in the State fiscal year commencing July 1 next following the date of enactment of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), and each year thereafter, the Board of Public Utilities shall transfer $20 million from available balances accumulated in accounts of the board from funds collected through the societal benefits charge imposed pursuant to subsection a. of this section to the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank for deposit into the Electric School Bus Financing Fund established pursuant to subsection b. of section 2 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) for the purposes of the Electric School Bus Financing Program, established pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The board and the trust may enter into any contract deemed necessary to implement the transfer of funds pursuant to this section.

(cf:  P.L.2019, c.362, s.13)

 

     8.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     The bill directs the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank (NJIB) to establish, within one year after the date of enactment of the bill into law, a program, to be known as the Electric School Bus Financing Program, to provide loans and other forms of financial assistance to school districts to finance the purchase of electric school buses in lieu of, or to replace, diesel-powered school buses for the daily transportation of students and the purchase and installation of related electric school bus charging infrastructure.

     A school district seeking financial assistance for the purchase of an electric school bus or the purchase and installation of related electric school bus charging infrastructure would be required to apply to the Board of Public Utilities (BPU).  As part of the application process, the school district would be required to perform an energy assessment of the school district's current fleet of school buses.  The assessment would compare the costs of acquiring, operating, and maintaining an electric school bus versus those for a diesel-powered school bus, identify the potential environmental benefits of using electric school buses within that school district, and identify potential savings that may be realized over the estimated useful life of the electric school bus. 

     The BPU, in consultation with the NJIB, would be required to develop criteria for the ranking of applications received for funding and specifications for the types of electric school buses and related charging infrastructure eligible for financing.  The bill specifies that this criteria provide priority ranking for school districts located in overburdened communities. 

     Upon approval of an application, the BPU would submit a certification of application approval to the NJIB.  Subject to the availability of funds under the program, the NJIB may make and contract to make loans or other forms of financial assistance to the applicant to finance all or a portion of the costs of the purchase of an electric school bus or the purchase and installation of related electric school bus charging infrastructure, as identified in the certification of application approval, provided that the project is included on a "Electric School Bus Financing Program Project Priority List" prepared by the BPU pursuant to section 4 of the bill.  Loans and other forms of financial assistance provided pursuant to the bill would be made subject to such terms and conditions as the NJIB deems appropriate.  The bill provides that a school district may use performance and operational savings realized from the purchase and use of an electric school bus or related charging infrastructure to repay a loan issued pursuant to the bill.

     The BPU, in conjunction with the NJIB, would be required to, no later than one year after the first loan or other form of financial assistance is made, and for each succeeding year in which such financial assistance is made, prepare and submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature, on the effectiveness of the program in promoting the purchase of electric school buses and related charging infrastructure by school districts.  The report would identify each school district that received a loan or other financial assistance from the program established by the bill, describe the electric school buses and related charging infrastructure purchased, and provide an analysis of the environmental benefits achieved from the purchase and use of electric school buses.  The report may also include any recommendations for legislative changes that may improve the effectiveness of the program.

     Lastly, the bill would require the BPU, in the State fiscal year commencing July 1 following the date of enactment of the bill into law, and each year thereafter, to transfer to the NJIB $20 million from available balances accumulated in accounts of the BPU from funds collected through the societal benefits charge (established by the "Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act") for the purposes of the Electric School Bus Financing Program established pursuant to the bill.  The BPU and the NJIB would be authorized to enter into any contract deemed necessary to implement this transfer of funds between the two entities.

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