The New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Jan. 15 approved a $15 million rebate pilot program meant to help cover the costs for businesses based in Camden and Newark to buy and use electric trucks.
Friday’s move is meant to start the process of slowly weaning diesel-powered trucks off the state, with the nation’s third-largest shipping port, roads. Already, the owners of that port – the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – say they plan to cover 25% of the costs for businesses to buy newer electric trucks.
Other major shipping centers in New Jersey include the Port of Paulsboro in Gloucester County and the Port of Camden-Gloucester, in the city of Camden along the Delaware River and next to Philadelphia.
Known formally as the New Jersey Zero-Emission Incentive Program, the aim is to provide between 100 and 300 vouchers for the purchase of medium and heavy-duty electric trucks.
Under the pilot program, vouchers would come in at between $25,000 and $100,000 for businesses and industrial organizations in either city, with bonuses for women, minority and veteran-owned organizations.
Proponents like environmentalist groups contend that Camden and Newark’s residents have been among the hardest hit by truck emissions, and so their focus for the initial stages of NJZIP makes the most sense.
“Diesel trucks are about ten times dirtier than gasoline cars due to the high levels of toxic pollutants that they emit,” reads a statement from Haley Berliner, a clean energy associate with Environment New Jersey. “For this reason, it is crucial that we prioritize electrifying dirty diesel trucks, especially in environmental justice communities.”
Berliner and Eric Miller, the state policy director with the Natural Resources Defense Council, supported the program but asked during the NJEDA Friday telephonic meeting that the program be expanded beyond just those two cities.
Tim Sullivan, the NJEDA’s chief executive officer, said that the Murphy administration has “significant ambitions to expand the pilot program as much as we can.”
Rebate amounts are tied to the size of the truck. Class 2B light trucks, which can weigh between 6,000 and 8,500 pounds, would garner vouchers of $25,000 under the pilot program.
Meanwhile, Class 6 medium trucks, which weigh between 19,501 and 26,000 pounds, would get vouchers closer to $100,000.
NJZIP will be the first program financed under the multistate Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, typically called RGGI and pronounced as “reggie,” which Gov. Phil Murphy reinstated in 2018.
The cap-and-trade agreement includes 10 Northeastern states, including Maine, Maryland and New York. Power plants effectively bid “emission credits” which set the amount for how much carbon they can release into the atmosphere. Auction proceeds then go towards local environment and clean energy projects across the 10 states.