New Jersey officials are taking steps to make it easier for drivers to switch from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles.
With cars and trucks accounting for 71% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan is focused on electrifying the transportation sector as part of a strategy to improve air quality and reduce health care costs. Altogether, the Garden State hopes to reach 100% clean energy by 2050.
The State Senate recently approved a bill to help expand the growing network of vehicle charging stations statewide, a measure that lawmakers believe will help New Jersey reach its goal of having 333,000 registered zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2025.
EV Chargers Expansion
S-3223 strives to make it easier to add charging spots in New Jersey by classifying them as an inherently beneficial use under the Municipal Land Use Law. Since the stations would be permitted in all zoning districts, a use variance would not be required—only minor site plan approval from a municipality would be needed.
State Sen. Kip Bateman (R-16), the bill’s primary sponsor, said in a press release, “If we’re going to get more electric cars on the road, we’re going to need easier and more convenient access to charging stations. It’s as simple as that.”
New Jersey ranked seventh in the U.S. with 26,000 electric cars as of the end of 2018, according to EVAdoption.com. But it ranked last in the number of charging outlets (745) per electric vehicle.
PSE&G EV Chargers
On Jan. 27, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved PSE&G’s plan to invest $166 million over the next six years to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations.
Altogether, the state’s largest utility plans to support installation of 40,000 residential chargers, 3,500 chargers at 800 commercial locations and 1,000 fast-charging stations at 300 locations off major highways.
Strengthening the charging network, PSE&G said, will help alleviate “range anxiety,” which is a fear that an electric vehicle will run out of power before reaching a place to plug in.
Karen Reif, vice president of PSE&G’s Renewables and Energy Solutions group, said in a press release, “The scarcity of public and private charging infrastructure discourages more people from driving electric vehicles.”
PSE&G’s program, she said, “will address those concerns and is designed to encourage people to make the switch to clean-running EVs.”
The utility company’s proposal to support electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, such as school buses, is pending before the BPU.
A-5303, introduced Jan. 27 by Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-11), aims to make sure electric car drivers are billed fairly for charging services.
The measure would prohibit timed-us and per-charge pricing and permit charging services to be sold on a per kilowatt hour rate, just as gas and diesel are sold by the gallon.
Houghtaling said in a statement “it’s only fair” for electric vehicle drivers to be billed similarly to those filling up gas-powered cars. If not, he said, “unreasonable charging prices” could be a deterrent for those considering a switch to electric-powered cars.
Other Renewable Energy Bills Advance
He added, “We need to do all we can to encourage the use of electric vehicles as a means to combat climate change and build a healthier future, including creating a more equitable pay system for charging.”
Several other bills that seek to encourage the use of more sustainable energy sources are also being considered by the state Legislature.
- S-2846: Would require state agencies that are looking to purchase an item requiring a power source to consider items powered by fuel cells. The Assembly approved a companion bill in July 2020.
- S-329: Would establish a solar roof installation warranty program in the Economic Development Authority and transfer $2 million from the BPU to get the program launched.
- S-3184: Would provide corporation business tax credit and allow gross income tax deduction for purchasing and installing electric vehicle charging stations.