NJ boosts incentives to get EVs on the road

More money available for local governments to buy electric vehicles
Credit: (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
File photo: An electric car being charged

In a significant expansion of what had been a small pilot program, the state Board of Public Utilities is allocating $7 million in grants to local and state government agencies to offset the cost of buying electric vehicles and related charging equipment.

The initiative builds on a $210,000 pilot program funded through the U.S. Department of Energy two years ago that handed out grants of $4,000 toward the purchase of battery-powered electric vehicles and $1,500 for a Level 2 EV-charging station for local and state entities to use.

The Murphy administration is seeking to move the transportation sector away from its reliance on fossil fuels and convert most of the vehicles on state roads to zero-emission vehicles by mid-century.

“Transportation is responsible for 46% of New Jersey’s net greenhouse-gas emissions, which contribute to the damaging effects of climate change and poor air quality in our communities,’’ said BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso. “Electrifying our transportation sector is critical to achieving Gov. Murphy’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050 and requires a collective effort at the state and local level.’’

Plugging in state vehicles

The effort so far, however, has a long way to go — even to meet short-term benchmarks set by the administration and state laws. By the end of 2025, Murphy wants at least 25% of state-owned nonemergency light duty vehicles to be plug-in EVs.

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“Directionally, it is good, but we need to go a lot faster,’’ said Pam Frank, CEO of ChargEVC, a coalition of utilities, clean-car advocates and car dealers backing the transition to electric vehicles. “It feels like baby steps when we need to be making giant leaps.’’

Murphy also has set a goal of registering 330,0000 EVs in the state by 2025. Besides the incentives for converting publicly owned fleets, the state plans to spend $30 million a year on grants to residents to purchase electric vehicles. Like the new incentives to purchase EVs for fleets, the money comes from a surcharge on electric and gas utility bills to fund clean-energy programs.

The new fleet incentives will allocate $6 million for use by state entities and $1 million for local governments. Eligible entities include local schools, municipal commissions, state universities, community colleges and county authorities, in addition to municipalities, municipal utility authorities and state agencies.

Depending upon the size of the community, applicants can apply for grants of up to five seven, or 10 vehicles per fleet.

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