New Jersey municipalities and other entities will soon be eligible for a portion of $7 million in grant money to purchase electric vehicles and chargers, as the state takes another step toward Gov. Phil Murphy's administration's goal of 100% clean energy by the year 2050.

The new guidelines of the Clean Fleet Electric Vehicle Incentive Program, in effect this coming Saturday, aim to specifically build toward the milestone of 25% state-owned, plug-in EVs by the end of 2025.

But the big picture is still in view, according to Christine Sadovy, New Jersey Board of Utilities chief of staff.

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"That's included in all of the Murphy administration's goals around 100% clean energy, so not just state vehicles but the larger vehicle electrification goals as well," Sadovy said. "Eligible entities include schools, municipal commissions, state agencies, boards, and commissions, state universities, community colleges, and county authorities, and that's in addition to municipalities, municipal utility authorities, and state agencies."

Earlier this year, NJBPU announced a pilot program in Camden and Newark offering vouchers for zero-emission vehicles. And within a week of that, the BPU and PSE&G reached a settlement to boost the state's charging infrastructure.

At the time, PSE&G said New Jersey had the lowest per-capita availability of charging stations of any state that had joined a zero-emission vehicle consortium, although the state received a favorable ranking from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Increasing the quantity of stations over cars isn't what the new stipulations in the Clean Fleet program are necessarily about, Sadovy said.

"That's a little bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. We are really trying to expand both the vehicles and the charging infrastructure simultaneously, so that there is charging infrastructure available throughout the state," she said. "Many of those chargers, we hope, will be accessible to the public, so that it's not just going to be for the government entity to use, but that for people who are driving EVs, they'll also be able to use those chargers as well."

Moving beyond the 25% EV benchmark by the close of 2025, New Jersey's Electric Vehicle Act of 2020 wants to move to 100% state-owned, non-emergency, light duty electric vehicles by the end of 2035.

NJBPU said transportation remains responsible for 46% of net greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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