Fulop: N.J. needs to increase rebates for buying electric vehicles

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop is thrilled by the potential of the role electric vehicles could play in fighting climate change. He’s proud to say his city is aiming to electrify its municipal fleet by 2030. And he’s glad sales of electric vehicles are increasing.

He just doesn’t think all of this is happening quickly enough.

In an opinion piece on NJ.com, Fulop said the state’s Charge Up New Jersey program is not doing enough to drop prices in order for the state to achieve its goal of having 330,000 EVs registered by 2025.

“The state must stand by its clean energy commitment and adequately fund its highly effective incentive program so more eligible drivers can purchase or lease a new EV and breathe cleaner air,” he wrote.

The Charge Up New Jersey program, which reopened July 25, reduced its top incentive to $4,000 in fiscal year 2023. Fulop said that’s not enough.

“The rationale for the reduction (in the face of rising prices, due to inflation and demand-supply imbalance) is to help more people get rebates,” he wrote. “The change is understandable. However, there is a glaring issue regarding the program’s overall budget.

“New Jersey must continually ramp up its program budget year over year to meet the increased sales every year, as required to meet the state’s EV goals. It’s basic math that helps us reach our goals and more swiftly eliminate fossil, and diesel-powered vehicles from our roads, especially in cities like Jersey City. Not everyone drives, but we all breathe in the pollution filling our air from cars and trucks driving through every one of our neighborhoods — some more than others.”

Fulop said there’s no time like the present — pointing to the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that includes nearly $5 billion to build charging stations along major travel corridors and creates a new National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure formula for states.

“The momentum is with us, and we must be clear-eyed about our priorities when it comes to allocating scarce budget dollars for state programs,” he wrote.

Fulop applauded Gov. Phil Murphy for signing a nation-leading EV bill mandating a consumer-friendly rebate program for light-duty EVs. But again, he said, it’s not enough.

“The law says the state must invest at least $30 million annually in these rebates, but to be clear, the minimum funding level will not be enough,” he said. “It’s basic math. We need to more than double that investment this year to meet the law’s goals. Each year through 2025, that budget must continue growing.”

It’s imperative, he wrote.

“With transformative federal funding coming to New Jersey, we must exhaust all avenues to transform communities into stronger, fairer, and more resilient places,” he wrote. “That starts at home — in New Jersey, where we have some of the most ambitious clean energy goals in the nation. Achieving these goals is difficult when policies move us backward, further away from our sustainable future.”