Murphy jolts NJ’s electric vehicle industry with driver rebate plan

(Koonsiri Boonnak/BigStock)

(Koonsiri Boonnak/BigStock)

New Jersey will offer $5,000 rebates to drivers who buy electric cars and $500 to people who install charging equipment in their home, in a bid to accelerate the nascent industry and move the state toward a 100% clean energy economy.

Gov. Phil Murphy, who signed the law Friday, said switching from gas-powered to electric vehicles is key to fighting climate change in a state where the transportation sector accounts for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions.

“New Jersey will take its rightful place as a leader in the electric vehicle revolution that is changing the way Americans drive and the concept of what it means to fill it up,” he said.

The law faced opposition from some in the transportation industry, who said it would hurt gas station workers and force drivers of traditional, gas-powered automobiles to subsidize the electric vehicle industry. Other critics questioned whether the rebates would incentivize new buyers or simply go to people who were planning to purchase electric vehicles anyway.

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Funding for the law will come from proceeds of the “societal benefits charge,” a fee paid by New Jersey utility customers and used for the state’s clean energy program and other causes.

The law also sets the goal of having 330,000 plug-in electric cars and trucks on New Jersey roads by 2025, and creates benchmarks for how quickly the state government will have to electrify its fleet.

Murphy has vowed to put New Jersey on track to a 100% clean energy economy by 2050, and said the electric vehicle law would go a long way in fighting climate change and air pollution, especially for the minority communities disproportionately impacted.

“I also think of the residents — largely communities of color, African-American and Latino families — who live in the shadows of the overpasses or alongside the highways, which carry tens of thousands of commuter cars every day into our city centers,” he said.

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