Murphy to decide on bill creating EV incentives and statewide program

The state Legislature sent Gov. Phil Murphy a long-stalled bill that would dramatically ramp up New Jersey’s electric vehicle market over the next decade.

Senate Bill 2252 was approved by a 27-12 vote in the state Senate on Monday and a 65-9 vote in the Assembly. It was widely supported by environmentalists as a way to slash carbon emissions that many contend contribute to climate change and drag down air quality.

Murphy has a week to decide whether he will approve the legislation.

The bill sets an aggressive goal for the state to have 330,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of 2024, and a total of 2 million by 2035; it also calls for benchmarks to institute infrastructure to support these new cars.

By 2040, at least 85 percent of all light-duty vehicles – those that weigh up to 10,000 pounds – sold in the state will be plug-in EVs.

“The electric vehicle rebate program promises to be the most aggressive in the nation, appropriate given the size of our transportation market and the state of our air, Pamela Frank, chief executive officer of ChargEVC, a coalition of environmentalists and business in support of the measure, said in a Monday statement.

To support the mass influx of plug-in vehicles, the bill calls for the state to have 400 fast-charging stations and another 1,000 slow-charging stations, both by 2025. Thirty percent of all apartment, condo and townhouse developments would need to have chargers by 2030, while half of all franchise hotels would need to have chargers by 2050.

“By promoting the use of electric vehicles … we can make New Jersey air cleaner which would be a huge win for the environment and public health,” Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, D-18th District, a sponsor and chair of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, said Monday in a statement.

Business groups such as the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers; New Jersey Chamber of Commerce; New Jersey Business & Industry Association; and the New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store and Automotive Association supported the measure, though it was opposed by trade groups representing the state’s petroleum and gasoline sectors.

“This bill represents a long-overdue commitment on the part of State government to put money where its mandates are,” NJCAR President Jim Appleton said in a statement. “The cash-on-the-hood incentives and infrastructure investment provided by this legislation demonstrate a real commitment to accelerate the electric vehicle market in New Jersey.”

The measure requires New Jersey Transit to electrify 10 percent of new bus purchases by the end of 2024, 50 percent of new purchases by the end of 2026 and 100 percent by the end of 2032.

With many electric vehicles carrying a price tag between $30,000 and $40,000, the bill calls for the state to subsidize such purchases with rebates of up to $5,000 per vehicle. Under the legislation, the rebates would come out of a $30 million state fund financed by the existing clean energy surcharge tacked onto utility bills.

That drew the wariness of such groups like the New Jersey Rate Counsel, an arm of the state government tasked with utility rates across the state in check.

“Private investment – as opposed to ratepayer dollars – is and will be available to pay for much of what needs to be done to reach the goals of the bills,” reads testimony from Stefanie Brand, the counsel’s director.

Daniel J. Munoz
Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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