To boost clean trucks, NJ wants more charging stations | Featured News in New Jersey


Credit: (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren, file)
New Jersey wants to convert more trucks to electricity.

The state is stepping up efforts to build the charging infrastructure needed to switch from belching diesel trucks to zero-emission vehicles – a shift aimed at cleaning up polluted air in many urban areas and reducing global warming emissions.

A straw proposal released last week by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities shows the agency wants to establish a comprehensive system of public access to charging stations in transportation corridors and at workplaces. These charging stations would help increase the number of medium and heavy electric trucks, as well as light vehicles.

The proposal is seen as complementary to a pending rule from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection that seeks to shift thousands of trucks – from delivery vans to buses to long-haul semi-trailers – to electricity. . The move could reduce a third of the pollution caused by global warming in the transportation sector, which accounts for 40% of that pollution in New Jersey.

The new rule proposal would adopt California’s “advanced truck rule”, requiring automakers to sell a certain percentage of zero-emission trucks instead of vehicles that use fossil fuels. New Jersey would be the first state to adopt the program.

By 2030, according to a memorandum of understanding with 14 other states and the District of Columbia, the state has agreed that 30% of all medium and heavy vehicles (MHDs) sold will be zero-emission vehicles and 100% of these sales by 2050.

Electrification of the transportation sector is a key part of Governor Phil Murphy’s clean energy goals and the state’s goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% from 2006 levels by the middle of the century.

Failure to electrify the vehicle fleet increases the cost of decarbonization from 2035 to 2050 by an average of $ 1.6 billion per year, according to research underpinning the state’s 2019 energy master plan.

“Diesel trucks, from delivery vans to tractor-trailers, are some of the dirtiest vehicles on the roads,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “This straw proposal describes the challenges ahead with the electrification of the sector.”

Mary Barber, director of legislative and regulatory affairs for New York and New Jersey with the Environmental Defense Fund, agreed, referring specifically to the advanced truck rule. “This is such an important rule,” she said. “It’s really essential for commercial vehicles to move forward and really improve the health of communities. “

Who bears the cost?

The proposal uses a model similar to an earlier regulation adopted by the agency for light vehicles. Under this system, the state’s four electric utilities would be responsible for the wiring and basic infrastructure to power a significant number of publicly accessible charging stations.

The new proposal incorporates the position of consumer advocates who wish to prevent utilities from relying on taxpayers to fund charging infrastructure, especially where private companies already exist in the sector.

Unregulated electric charging companies, using private capital, would be primarily responsible for installing, owning and operating the charging infrastructure. BPU staff generally recommend that the cost of charging equipment be borne by private investors, with taxpayer funds being used only in areas where the private sector is unable to build such infrastructure.

The measure also proposes to create increased transportation options in low- and moderate-income communities and environmental justice, which critics say have been left out of the transition to cleaner technologies, including conversion to energy. solar.

Numerous hearings on the straw proposal are scheduled for August and September.

“This straw proposal, along with the advanced truck rule, will put New Jersey ahead of the truck electrification,” O’Malley said.

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