NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - City council members Wednesday passed an ordinance purchase electricity on a city-wide basis and to require that the power come from renewable energy sources.

The ordinance, which establishes an "energy aggregation program" to buy electricity in bulk for all residential properties," stipulates that any company entering a contract to supply that power must get 30 percent of it's electricity from renewable energy sources by the year 2020.

That percentage will increase to 50 percent by 2024 and continue rise until 2035 when any energy provider must get 100 percent of it's electricity from renewable sources in order to obtain a contract with the city.

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City officials say that buying in bulk is done by dozens of other municipalities in the state and will allow New Brunswick to purchase electricity at a lower rate than residential property owners now pay.

All residential owners would automatically be included in the program to receive the rate that the city obtains through a contract, but individual owners could opt-out of the program to receive power from another supplier.

Also, commercial property owners could join the program to get the city rate for energy.

Before council members passed the ordinance, several city residents and activists spoke in favor the measure, with most mentioning the need for renewable energy sources protect the environment and stop climate change.

"We have extreme heat. We have droughts. We don't have any time to waste. I implore the governing body to take this action," said long-time city resident Ester Barcun.

The council adopted an ordinance that members of the New Jersey Food and Water Watch proposed submitted last month along with a petition bearing the signatures of 669 city residents. The non-profit group wanted the city to either adopt the measure or put it on the November ballot as a referendum question.

City Attorney T. J. Shamy said the city had been working on similar ordinance.

Councilwoman Suzanne Sicora Ludwig, in voting for the amendment, thanked Shamy and Mayor James Cahill for taking the initiative to pursue an energy program.

Sicora Ludwig voted for the ordinance, as did Council Vice President John Anderson and Councilman Kevin Egan, and Councilwoman Rebecca Escobar, who did not attend the meeting but participate via a telephone connection.

Council members also passed a resolution to have the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey (ESCNJ) serve as a consultant in negotiating a contract with an energy provider.

Shamy said the Piscataway-based agency has negotiated similar contracts for other municipalities. Shamy also said that any fees ESCMJ charged would be paid by the energy supplier that receives the contract with the city.