On October 20, 2011, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced that New Jersey signed an agreement with other states and the District of Columbia to develop a Northeast Electric Vehicle Network and promote alternative transportation fuels. This announcement comes less than one month after New Jersey, along with the other members of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, received a federal grant of nearly $1 million to start planning a network of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs). The goal of the Network is to bolster economic growth, maintain the region’s leadership in the clean energy economy and reduce the area’s dependence on oil and its emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

The Electric Vehicle Network is intended to enable EV drivers to be able to use their vehicles easily throughout the Northeast from northern New England to Washington, D.C. In addition, it hopes to attract private investment with consistent standards and regulations across the region. The project will develop a plan and guidance documents for the development of a network of charging stations. It is anticipated that EVs will reduce emissions from the transportation sector by shifting vehicles from petroleum to cleaner, more efficient electricity produced by renewable resources. In New Jersey, nearly 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector.

In announcing New Jersey’s membership in the agreement, Commissioner Martin stated,

The Christie Administration is committed to improving New Jersey’s air quality. Diversifying the types of vehicles that people in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic drive to include more electric, hybrid and alternate-fuel vehicles is a very important part of improving our air quality. The Northeast Electric Vehicle Network will provide the planning needed to develop and spur the construction of infrastructure that will drive market demand for these vehicles. At the same time, this effort will lead to job creation and economic growth.

The Network dovetails with EV activities already underway in New Jersey. Several bills mandating EV charging stations in turnpike service stations and new shopping center developments are currently pending before the New Jersey Legislature. In addition, Avalon unveiled an EV charging station on August 5, 2011, touting it as the first charging station at the Jersey shore.

A recent study by Pike Research forecasts that the New Jersey-New York-Pennsylvania region will be among the top five metropolitan areas for electric vehicle purchases between 2011 and 2017. Consumers will not buy EVs unless they are confident that they can find a charging station away from home as easily as they can find a gas station. The EV Network is intended to meet that concern with the necessary infrastructure. To help future EV drivers find the infrastructure, Google added the locations of EV charging stations to their maps in March of 2011.

Susanne Peticolas is a Director in the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Department.