(TRENTON) – A two-bill legislative package involving pilot programs for electric vehicles sponsored by Assembly Members John McKeon and Nancy Pinkin cleared the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Thursday.
“This is the future, and the future is now,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “It’s time we start thinking ahead to when electric vehicles are the norm.”
The first bill (A-2718) would establish a public-private alternative fueling station pilot program and would require the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), in consultation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) and the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA), to conduct a study determining what infrastructure is already in place and what infrastructure is needed to accommodate the growing demand for electric vehicles.
The study would analyze the pilot program and make recommendations concerning:
• Continuation of any state partnership with a private entity or public utility;
• Increased access to, or increasing the number of, alternative fueling and charging stations in the state, and;
• Identification of highway rest stops in the state where alternative fueling stations, including charging stations, can be installed.
The study would also include a proposal and plan for New Jersey to install at least one charging station in each of the northern, central, and southern regions in the state.
Following the submission of the study, the DOT, or other appropriate executive department or independent agency, would apply for any available federal grants or other funds for the purposes of establishing alternative fueling stations, and would be responsible for the installation of the stations.
The second bill (A-3830), sponsored by Pinkin, who chairs the Environment and Solid Waste Committee, would require the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), in consultation with the DOT, the Department of Education and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, to develop and implement, no later than 6 months following the effective date of the bill if it were to become law, a 3-year “Electric School Bus Pilot Program.”
“We spend tens of millions of dollars annually to acquire diesel fuel from foreign countries, which hurts not only our pockets, but our planet as well,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “This program can help us save money in the long term, and maybe more importantly, save the only planet we call home.”
The goal of the pilot program is to determine the operational reliability and cost effectiveness of replacing diesel-powered school buses with electric school buses for daily transportation of students.
The BPU would select at least 3 different school districts, one in each geographical region of New Jersey, to participate in the pilot program to purchase electric school buses and to purchase and install electric school bus charging infrastructure in coordination with school bus contractors, as well as any State department, board, bureau, commission or agency as necessary.
Under the bill, the BPU would award grants up to $10 million in total from revenues of the societal benefits charge to school districts selected to participate in the pilot program. The BPU would also then be required to submit a report on the pilot program with certain information to the Governor and Legislature no later than 6 months following the completion of the pilot program.
The school districts would be required to send periodic reports to the BPU detailing the cost of operating electric school buses and any reliability issues associated with the operation of the buses.
“Aside from the cost of purchasing diesel fuel and the dangers of emitting toxicity into the air, the fumes our current buses release can be incredibly detrimental to a child’s health,” said Pinkin. “Children with asthma and other respiratory illnesses who spend countless hours on school buses over the course of their educational lives are especially at-risk, and this bill will help protect the health of our children.”