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$100 million in electric vehicle charging investment coming to NJ. We need more | Opinion

Over the past 10 years, drivers have registered almost 50,000 plug-in electric vehicles in the Garden State, and electric vehicles are becoming a more common sight in our communities. One of the top concerns among drivers curious about buying EVs is the question of range anxiety — how far can you drive before you need to find a charger to power up your vehicle?

Now, we have an opportunity to put range anxiety to rest. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which just passed Congress with bipartisan support, provides funding to help install up to 250,000 EV charging stations across the United States — including more than $100 million for New Jersey.

This legislation is the first-ever federal investment in EV charging stations and would be critical to bolstering the electrification work that Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has already set in motion. 

Speeding up our transition from gas guzzlers to zero-emission vehicles is crucial. Transportation is the greatest contributor to global warming emissions in both the U.S. and New Jersey. Not surprisingly, the majority of those emissions come from our everyday cars and trucks. 

These vehicles also emit harmful air pollutants that can cause serious respiratory and cardiac illnesses. We’re already feeling the impacts of climate change here, from increasing severity of storms and flooding, rising average temperatures and air quality reaching unhealthy levels across the state. 

In order to rein in climate and air pollution, we need a plan to transition the state’s fleet of cars and trucks to 100% electric vehicles. To get there, we need to do three things: make EVs cheaper and easier for people to buy; strengthen emission standards; and build infrastructure to support electric cars. 

The bipartisan infrastructure package puts one of those key pieces of the puzzle into place.

In New Jersey, gas stations currently outnumber public charging stations by more than 5 to 1. As a result, refueling is much harder for EV drivers, and many face the dreaded range anxiety — the fear that they could be stranded on the road without charging access. With $7.5 billion in funding provided in this federal bill, hundreds of thousands of public charging stations would be deployed across the country, especially in hard-to-reach areas. 

The Garden State is already on track to zoom toward an electric vehicle transition. In 2018, Murphy announced that New Jersey was joining the Zero Emission Vehicle program, which requires manufacturers to produce an increasing percentage of electric cars. The following year, Murphy pledged to have 330,000 EVs on the road by 2025 as part of the administration’s Energy Master Plan to fight climate change. 

In 2020, the governor signed a law to create incentives for electric vehicles, including a rebate of up to $5,000 for the purchase or lease of a new electric car and the goal of having 75 fast charging stations deployed along major roads. And, earlier this fall,  Murphy unveiled a statewide ordinance that streamlines the process for municipalities to approve EV charging infrastructure.

The funding provided in this federal bill will jumpstart the buildout of New Jersey’s EV charging infrastructure, which is currently falling behind demand. With a robust charging network in place, it’ll be easier than ever for New Jersey residents to make the switch and support the progression of other electrification programs we already have in place. 

The Build Back Better Act, now being debated in Congress, could spur EV adoption even further. Not only would this bill mean even more funding for charging infrastructure, but it also includes fully refundable tax credits up to $12,500 for folks who purchase new electric vehicles and up to $4,000 for the purchase of used EVs. Given that electric cars’ high sticker price is still a primary barrier to their adoption, these tax credits could allow even more New Jersey residents to afford an EV.

We are elated that Congress passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, to make sure New Jersey residents have the charging infrastructure in place they need to travel across the state. Now, Congress should swiftly pass the Build Back Better Act to help clean car sales increase even further and make it easier for New Jerseyans to purchase electric vehicles. We are grateful for the full bipartisan vote from New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, including Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-Wyckoff, and Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson.

While EV charging stations alone won’t solve all our climate problems here in New Jersey, they are a huge start in driving toward a future powered by clean, electric transportation.

Hayley Berliner is the clean energy advocate of Environment New Jersey, a citizen-based environmental advocacy organization representing more than 80,000 dues-paying members and activists, and based in Trenton and New Brunswick.

Read More: $100 million in electric vehicle charging investment coming to NJ. We need more | Opinion


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