New electric vehicle toolkits for local governments show how to act locally on electrifying transportation

Media Contacts
Hayley Berliner

Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center

Trenton — Just after the busiest travel weekend of the year, in which most people rely on polluting fossil fuel powered planes and cars, Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center is releasing two new guides that show how local governments in New Jersey can pave the way for cleaner transportation through policies that support the growing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). With transportation being the number one source of global warming emissions in New Jersey and in the United States, transitioning to EVs must be a key part of any plan to reduce climate pollution — and these toolkits offer a roadmap to reaching that goal. 

“Even though more electric vehicles than ever are on the road, cities and counties need to step up their game to get more New Jerseyans to transition to electric vehicles,” said Hayley Berliner, Clean Energy Advocate with Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center. “By taking the steps detailed in the toolkit, local governments across New Jersey, and especially in Morris County, can energize their communities to make the switch to clean, electric vehicles.”

The toolkits highlight 20 tools and policies that leading towns have adopted to make it easier to buy and own an EV, including: 

  • Municipal purchasing of EVs

  • Expansion of EV charging infrastructure

  • Electric buses and bikes

  • EV-friendly building codes and zoning requirements

  • Incentives to purchase EVs

  • EV advocacy and resolutions 

Towns in Morris County are already working to speed up the transition to EVs. As detailed in the “Charge Local” guide, Madison has installed five publicly accessible EV charging stations easing range anxiety for their residents and Morris County travelers passing through the town. These commitments at the local level also help New Jersey reach its statewide global warming reduction targets of 330,000 EVs on the roads by 2025 and 2 million by 2035.

“I am very proud that Madison has made a commitment to EV charging infrastructure in our community,” said Mayor Bob Conley of Madison. “To paraphrase a statement on activism, ‘we need to charge locally to impact globally.’”

These toolkits can also help prepare local government officials for federal investment in electric vehicles. President Biden’s signature earlier this month on the bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment Act will lead to the investment of $7.5 billion in grant money that local officials can apply for to expand EV charging stations in their communities. The complementary Build Back Better framework would create new funding opportunities for electric vehicle purchasing incentives. To make the most of those investments, local governments will need to play a role in educating the public and in swiftly permitting new charging stations and infrastructure.

“Pollution from cars, trucks and buses makes us sick, hurting our lungs, hearts and overall health,” said Margaret Berei, Campaign Coordinator with Environment New Jersey. “To clean the air in our communities, we have to take local action. Local leaders should prioritize electric vehicles to protect our health.”

If enough cities take action, these local vehicle electrification tools can have national climate ramifications in reducing U.S. transportation emissions. Municipal policies across the country, from building codes in Boise, Idaho, to charging station partnerships in Mobile, Alabama, have shown the importance of government action in advancing EV adoption. More cities, towns and counties in New Jersey should look to the initiatives detailed in these reports as a guide for promoting EVs in their communities. 

Denville was able to install an EV charging station through the help of a Green Sustainability Grant, and a determined Eagle Scout. According to Mayor Thomas Andes, “I have seen many Eagle Scout Community Service Projects. There have been several as ambitious, none as expensive or technical.” Once installed, it was only the second municipally owned and operated EV charging station in the entire state.

In September, the Murphy administration rolled out a statewide municipal model ordinance, intended to streamline the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in all 565 municipalities in New Jersey. This model ordinance simplifies the approval process for zoning and permitting decisions, provides minimum requirements for make-ready parking spaces, and general guidelines for moving forward with electric vehicle charging.

“Thank you to Madison, Denville, and Morristown, all of whom we highlight in the guide, for their leadership and commitment to increasing access to EV charging in their towns to help spur adoption,” said Berliner. “We also greatly appreciate their participation in the creation of this guide to help other municipalities in Morris County, and across New Jersey, follow in their footsteps to make electric vehicles a reality across the state.”