A new study of the most energy efficient states in the Northeast shows New Jersey, an early leader, has now fallen behind.

Henglein and Steets, Getty Images

According to the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership, the state has used clean energy funds to plug state budget shortfalls.

Public Policy Director Jim O'Reilly says the Christie administration treats the funds like a political football.

"They are claiming they are closing budget shortfalls without having to increase taxes. But effectively they are. Because they are taxing these electric and natural gas ratepayers, but they are not using the money for what was intended."

He says last year, Gov. Christie announced plans to take another $279 million from the fund to help balance the budget.

State officials in recent months have again discussed reducing New Jersey's clean energy fund budget, which is generated by surcharges on utility bills. The fund is supposed to support incentives like energy efficiency rebates and green job training.

All told, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships report gives New Jersey a grade of "struggling."

The partnership says Massachusetts, New York and Vermont have taken the lead in the Northeast because of their commitment to a clean-energy economy.