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Smith, Greenstein Bill to Promote Plug-in Electric Vehicles Clears Committee

TRENTON Legislation sponsored by Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chair Bob Smith and Senator Linda Greenstein which would create a significant state effort to promote plug-in electric vehicles cleared the Senate Environment and Energy Committee today.

“Given the speed at which the planet is warming, it is imperative we do all that we can to protect the environment,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “Increased usage of electric cars could greatly reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. This would have a major impact in our urban communities and along high traffic corridors, improving the quality of life for many New Jerseyans.”

The bill, a committee substitute for S-2252, would create a statewide electric vehicle charging system and a rebate program for purchasers of electric vehicles. The bill sets statewide electric vehicle goals with specific benchmarks for each goal. The bill would also require a report be presented to the governor and the Legislature every five years to track progress.

“Electric vehicles are the future of transportation but many people are reluctant to make the switch. They cost more upfront and minimal access to charging stations creates uncertainty about their range,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By offering rebates to buyers and building convenient charging stations around the state, this bill removes those barriers and paves the way for widespread usage of electric cars.”

The bill would establish an Electric Vehicle Working Group in the Department of Environmental Protections (DEP). The group would be responsible for developing a statewide vehicle charging infrastructure plan for the long-term development and instillation of charging infrastructure.

The Board of Public Utilities, in cooperation with the Department of Transportation, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and the South Jersey Transportation Authority, would establish the “Essential Public Charging Network Initiative.” The network would create charging stations throughout the state to support expansion of electric vehicle usage with sufficient access to minimize drivers’ range anxiety. The network would include charging stations along major corridors and in community locations.

All network equipment and infrastructure would be equally accessible to all plug-in electric vehicles and their operators, without unreasonable commercial or technical restrictions. All network charging stations would be highly visible and locations would be posted online in order to ensure they are easy to identify and locate.

The Board of Public Utilities, in cooperation with the State Treasurer and the Department of Environmental Protections, would be required to establish a “Light Duty Plug-in Electric Vehicle Rebate Program.” The program, intended to incentivize purchasing electric vehicles, would last for ten years, or until $300 million in rebates had been disbursed. The rebates would follow a formula set by the bill and could not exceed $5,000.

The bill cleared committee by a vote of 4-1 and next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.