The state is using part of a $9.5 million federal grant to accelerate the installation of electric-vehicle charging stations at workplaces across New Jersey.
The U.S. Department of Transportation funding also is expected to provide money to reduce diesel emissions from refrigerated trucks unloading and loading shipments, as well as emissions from passenger ferries.
The programs, to be administered by the Departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation, are designed to curb air pollution that contributes to ground-level ozone (smog) and greenhouse-gas emissions.
Largest source of carbon pollution
The transportation sector is the biggest source of carbon pollution that contributes to global warming. Environmentalists and public health advocates have long criticized state efforts to deal with mobile air pollution and climate change as falling short of what is necessary.
The DEP said the infusion of federal funding for the projects would reduce chemicals and pollutants contributing to smog by 167 tons annually, the equivalent of removing 45,000 cars and tractor-trailers from the roads.
“Cars and trucks account for about 30 percent of ozone-forming precursors in New Jersey’s air,’’ said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “It is critical that we focus on reducing emissions from transportation to protect public health.’’
The first project builds upon the DEP’s “Pay$ to Plug In” electric vehicle program, launched last year. This joint effort with the state Board of Public Utilities awarded nearly $850,000 to fund 180 workplace charging stations at 66 locations. The additional funding could lead to up to 500 new charging stations, helping to meet rising demand.
There are approximately 10,000 electric vehicles on the road in New Jersey, with fewer than 1,000 charging stations, not all of them accessible to the public. With many clean-energy advocates saying the state is lagging behind other parts of the region, there is a renewed focus on building the infrastructure for electric vehicles.
For instance, the state BPU has launched a proceeding to develop policies that would promote wider acceptance of electric vehicles. In addition, NJ Spotlight is sponsoring a roundtable on electrifying the transportation sector on December 14 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Hamilton Township.
Meanwhile, the issue is expected to be a top priority when the new Legislature convenes next January with a slew of bills offering various incentives to build out the infrastructure already drafted by lawmakers.
“This grant is a small development on the investment we will need to make electric vehicles happen,’’ said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “Workplace charging is a great place to start because it would be visible and cars have a full day to be recharged.’’
The second project to be funded by the federal grant will aim to curb diesel emissions from trucks that need to keep refrigerated goods at the proper temperature while loading and unloading shipments. The program will allow trucks to plug in and keep goods cool while reducing emissions.
Finally, the funds will be used to fund marine vessel engine refits for New York Harbor ferries.