EDA approves $15M program to bring more zero-emission vehicles to Newark, Camden

Pilot program, which N.J. hopes to expand to other areas, will provide vouchers of up to $100K

In an effort to bring more zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicles to Newark and Camden, the board of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Friday approved NJ ZIP, a $15 million pilot program that will fund 100 to 300 vouchers of up to $100,000 for the purpose.

The EDA said it will launch the program in the coming months. Here’s how it will work:

  • The program will provide vouchers to businesses and organizations purchasing new, Class 2b to Class 6 vehicles.
  • The size of vouchers awarded through the program will vary, depending on the class of vehicle being purchased, from a minimum of $25,000 for Class 2b vehicles to $100,000 for Class 6 vehicles.
  • State officials said bonuses will be available for small businesses; women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses; vehicles that are manufactured in New Jersey; small businesses that scrap their eligible MHDVs; and vendors that invest in driver education and training.
  • Vouchers will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, with $5 million set aside for micro and small businesses.
  • Initially, the program only will be available in the greater Newark and greater Camden areas, defined as the overburdened communities within or intersected by a circle with a 10-mile radius centered on Newark and Camden.

NJ ZIP, which stands for New Jersey Zero Emission Incentive Program, is the first initiative in the state’s holistic, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative-funded effort to support the deployment of zero-emission vehicles.

The program will be funded using proceeds from New Jersey’s participation in RGGI, a multistate “cap-and-trade” program regulating carbon dioxide emissions. New Jersey officials said the state plans to deploy those funds within four initiative categories identified in the RGGI Strategic Funding Plan: catalyzing clean, equitable transportation; promoting blue carbon in coastal habitats; enhancing forests and urban forests; and creating a New Jersey Green Fund.

Gov. Phil Murphy said the model has proven to be effective.

“NJ ZIP brings a tried-and-true model for increasing the adoption and use of zero-emission vehicles to New Jersey, with a focus on reducing emissions in the greater Camden and Newark areas,” he said. “This is a critical step toward our environmental justice initiatives that I hope will spark the widespread adoption of zero-emission vehicles across the state.”

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said the program will help both the environment and the economy.

“The adoption of zero-emission vehicles will reduce dangerous emissions within the greater Newark and Camden communities and drive future economic growth by creating jobs critical to supporting and accelerating adoption of these vehicles,” he said.

“NJ ZIP moves us closer to these goals by providing a new resource that will enable businesses and institutions to invest in zero-emission vehicles. We will look to learn from this initial pilot program in two of the most overburdened communities in our state, near major ports and transportation hubs; and, if successful, we will look to expand to other regions.”

State officials said transportation accounts for 42 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey; more than double the emissions from the second-largest source. Medium and heavy-duty vehicles contribute the majority of the state’s transport-sector emissions.

For these reasons, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso said increasing the use of zero-emission vehicles is central to many state plans for protecting the environment, including Murphy’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan and the RGGI Strategic Funding Plan.

“NJ ZIP moves us toward these goals, in parallel with our other EV programs — such as Charge Up New Jersey,” Fiordaliso said. “(They go) hand-in-hand with Gov. Murphy’s vision for a cleaner, healthier energy future.”

Catherine McCabe, who retired as the commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection on Friday, agreed.

“Together, we can spark real and lasting change to reduce greenhouse gases from New Jersey’s cars and trucks,” she said. “Transportation is by far the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey, and most of these emissions come from commercial vehicles. NJ ZIP will enable businesses of all sizes, with a special emphasis on micro and small businesses, to replace their current medium duty vehicles with zero emission alternatives.

“Together with the DEP’s grant program, this important initiative will protect our environment, improve public health, and advance Gov. Murphy’s environmental justice and clean energy goals.”