In Electric Vehicles

 

This week’s installment of Greater Mercer TMA’s Get In, We’re Going Electric series is intended to act as a resource for municipalities, planners, and community changemakers in making the shift towards electric vehicle (EV) adoption. We are building upon the EV101 Basics from the previous week’s article. Here, we will talk about benefits of fleet electrification and expanding access to charging stations in your community. This article will also cover some of the state and federal incentives that make it easier for municipalities to pursue electrification. Links are provided for reference, not paid promotion.

 

State Leads the Charge, but Local Gov’t Keeps the Ball Rolling

In New Jersey, the transportation sector accounts for 42% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest emissions source in the state. Change is coming quick— The New Jersey Energy Master Plan set a transformative goal to electrify its transportation and building sectors close to 100%, which are the greatest carbon emission producing sectors in the state. The State will provide incentives and subsidies for EV purchase and run grant programs for the purchase, installation, and maintenance of EV charging stations.

Vehicle electrification is a major and crucial step in reducing climate change. It will result in improvements in public health and sustainability, and reap benefits in economic development, energy security, and environmental justice.

In true support of vehicle electrification, in July 2021 Governor Murphy’s administration signed into law a package of bills that require municipalities to incorporate EV charging station installation into zoning, permitting and redevelopment processes. They also provided a model ordinance to make this process easier for municipalities to pursue their electrification requirements. Local governments are crucial in the transition to electric vehicles (EV) and can implement policies that spur electrification faster in their communities.

 

Benefits of EV Adoption

On top of the environmental and public health benefits associated with EVs, here are a few more reasons to charge forward into EV adoption:

  • Lower Fuel Costs – On average, it costs less to run an EV than a conventional gasoline-fueled car because electricity costs less than gasoline. You spend 60% less on the electricity to run your car than you do for gasoline, and that’s the same as paying around $1.16/gallon to power your car.
  • Little to No Maintenance – Maintenance costs for a light-duty, battery-powered car are around 40% less per mile than for a gas-powered car. EVs do not have timing belts, oxygen sensors, fuel filters, spark plugs, multi-speed transmissions and other parts that are costly to service in conventional cars. Gas-powered cars require regular oil changes, EVs have no need for motor oil. Motor Trend determined the cost of maintaining the federal government’s fleet of light-duty vehicles would be $78 million cheaper per year if it were entirely battery-powered and all-electric.
  • More Interior and Trunk Space – In a battery electric vehicle (BEV), the electric motor and the battery can be found underneath the car and not under the hood. Without a huge fuel tank or engine, EVs allow for more space for interiors and storage.

What types of facilities and infrastructure does my community need?

We covered residential EV charger types in our previous article, but commercial and public charging works a little differently. Here, we will introduce the DC Fast Charger (Level 3). Typically, Level 1 Stations are best for overnight charging at home, and Level 2 Stations may be more ideal for workplaces or community parks where people can charge for longer hours. DC Fast charging stations are best for locations where individuals spend 20 minutes or more. Malls, grocery stores, restaurants, Wawa parking lots, and highway rest stops are key locations where individuals may want to quickly fill up on power!

In New Jersey, public charging infrastructure is continually expanding to meet state requirements for 400 DC fast chargers available for public use at 200 locations, and 1000 Level 2 chargers available for public use by December 31, 2025. Charging stations can have one or more ports, like fuel pumps at gas stations.

Currently, there are 45 EV charging stations in Mercer County and 26 in Ocean County.

How do we expand charging station access?

Most EV charging is likely to be done at home. Charging is typically easiest for EV owners who have a garage or driveway space to charge their cars, but it can be a challenge for those who live in apartments or other multi-family units. As the EV market continues to grow, property managers and developers may want to start providing dedicated parking spots for EV Charging.

New Jersey provides incentives for adding charging station in apartment complexes through the NJDEP’s It Pay$ to Plug in Program. Multi-unit dwellings with at least four units may apply for funding to install charging stations and owners will receive reimbursement for charging port types as follows:

  • $750 for level 1
  • $4,000 level 2
  • $200,000 for DC Fast Chargers, with a 2-port minimum per grant

Read more about how your municipality can get funding for charging infrastructure on New Jersey’s Drive Green website.

 

Photo source: PSE&G

 

PSE&G also has a $166M initiative that supports the states goals for the installation of:

  • 40,000 residential chargers
  • 3,500 commercial chargers
  • 1,000 DC fast chargers

Customers may be eligible for three types of reimbursements for residential smart charging, mixed-use commercial charging, and public DC fast charging.

 

What makes an EV-Friendly Municipality?

To successfully make meaningful changes in your community, it takes careful thought and preparation. Here are some considerations your municipality must understand when preparing for future EV-related infrastructure expansion:

Step 1: Update the Zoning Ordinance and Parking Ordinance

Municipalities should update their zoning ordinance to clarify where EV charging stations are permitted. In July 2021, Governor Murphy signed into law the Electric Vehicle Charging Station Law that required the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (“DCA”) publish a statewide model ordinance to provide guidance on how to implement the provisions of the new statute. The DCA has now published its model ordinance as a resource for municipalities here. Parking ordinances may also need to be amended to include minimum EV parking standards for new developments and address design considerations like lighting and signage requirements for EV parking and charging stations.

Step 2: Establish Clear Definitions

Standard definitions for common terms should also be included in your municipality’s ordinance. To reduce confusion and misunderstanding, don’t forget to define terms like: electric vehicles, alternative fuels, electric vehicle parking space, and electric vehicle charging stations.

Step 3: Determine Charging Fees, Time Limits, Use Restrictions

Charging stations can also be equipped with meters to collect charging fees. Typical rates for EV charging are $1.50-$2.00 an hour. This can be in addition to regular parking fees or it can replace parking fees.  It is also important to specify time limits for charging in your municipality’s parking codes or ordinances. This prevents EVs from staying in a charging station for too long and ensures that there is always an EV charging spot available for drivers. Some municipalities have tried increasing fees after a number of hours or factoring in surge pricing at certain times.

Step 4: Create Guidelines for Permitting and Inspection

Clarity is key! When transitioning your municipality towards EV-friendliness, make sure to produce clear, publicly-accessible, and easy to understand guidance documents on EV charging infrastructure permitting. Streamlining the permitting and inspection process for EV charging infrastructure will pave a smoother way for residents and businesses in your municipality to go electric.

 

Where can I get help?

Conversations about EV is hot and happening and there is no shortage of helpful material out there. Here are some that come to our top of mind:

We’re here. Let’s talk! 

Of course, Greater Mercer TMA is always here to help. If you are a local business or government seeking to get funding and assistance in implementing charging stations, we can help you stay up-to-date with best practices and connect you to information that you need.

We are here for you throughout the planning process: EV ordinance research, planning and development, looking for funding resources, connecting you to experts on charging infrastructure, and identifying key locations for planning stations.

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