BY WAYNE P. DEANGELO AND CONNIE WAGNER
While some may prefer to discourage the promotion and development of electric cars in New Jersey, here’s some fiscal reality that working class New Jersey families know all too well — gas prices have risen 33 cents in the past two weeks and are taking a larger bite from already-stretched household budgets.
We started advancing our bills before gas prices spiked because our vision for New Jersey’s future involves economic development, job creation, a cleaner environment for our children and energy independence. Still, the ballooning gas prices only highlight why it’s important for this state to encourage electric car technology right now.
Fully charging an electric car costs between $2 and $4, creating an annual average savings of $1,300 for households that purchase one. That’s money that goes back into the pockets of New Jersey families.
Assembly Democrats believe that electric cars represent an important technology that citizens of the Garden State should be able to have access, and that’s why we’re working to make them affordable.
But we also want New Jersey to be on the cutting edge.
President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, pledged to put 1 million advanced technology vehicles such as electric cars and hybrids on America's roads by 2015. Some may prefer to let other states take advantage of this opportunity, but we want New Jersey to be poised to take advantage of that coming economic growth.
That’s why we’ve advanced income and corporate tax breaks for individuals and businesses who buy electric vehicles and charging stations.
We also understand, however, that electric cars also need to be practical. If people want to drive one of these into their garage, they’re going to want to know that they’re going to have a place to refuel it when they drive it back out.
Electric cars will mostly be charged at home, which is why we’re trying to provide incentives for owners to install charging stations there. But having charging stations at toll road rest areas will be a cost-effective way of ensuring that drivers can get the partial charge they need to get them home if they find themselves running low on power.
And this will cost taxpayers nothing, because the charging stations will be paid for by those using them to charge their vehicles.
Advances in battery technology will soon cut down on charging times, and we’ve introduced legislation to spur the state to enter into public-private partnerships for the development and deployment of fast-charging stations as that technology reaches the market.
Our electric car package recognizes that green technology is vital in our economy and helping us remain competitive. Embracing this technology will create permanent, green jobs stemming from the sale, installation and maintenance of charging stations.
But there’s more to it.
New Jersey residents continue to breathe unhealthy levels of air toxins such as soot, smog and ozone pollution, which can especially compromise the health of children with asthma and seniors with breathing problems or other health issues. Electric vehicles would help tackle that problem and lead to a cleaner New Jersey.
This is all common sense.
With this package of legislation, we’re building the infrastructure for our roads of the future. These investments help stimulate New Jersey’s economic future, improve the quality of the air we breathe, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
If we send the message that New Jersey is welcoming toward electric vehicles, than we’ll see more sales and attract an entirely new industry that can bring new high-paying jobs for working class residents.
It’s always easiest to be against something for the sake of simply being against something.
We can and should do more to promote electric cars and the economic development, job creation and cleaner air they will bring to our state. Everything has to start somewhere, and these bills represent a great start toward making New Jersey a focal point for electric car sales and usage.
Assemblyman Wayne P. DeAngelo is a Democrat who represents the 14th Legislative District in Mercer and Middlesex counties; Assemblywoman Connie Wagner is a Democrat who represents the 38th Legislative District in Bergen County.