New Jersey’s offer of $5,000 toward the purchase of a new light-duty plug-in electric vehicle has gone on hiatus until next summer, as it is on pace to nearly exhaust its first-year budget by month’s end.

Nearly 4,500 applications for Charge Up New Jersey incentives have already been approved, amounting to $21.6 million, and Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso said the program is on pace to be near 6,000 and $30 million by month’s end.

“New Jerseyans are even more enthusiastic for electric vehicles than we really initially anticipated,” Fiordaliso said.

“By any measure, New Jersey’s electric vehicle incentive program has been a resounding success,” he said.

Online applications for reimbursements can still be filed through March 15 for vehicles bought by last Tuesday, Dec. 15. The second of the program will probably begin in July or August, after the start of the state’s new fiscal year. At that point, consumers will get the incentive at the time of purchase.

“Right in the dealership’s showroom when they buy their new electric vehicle, and not have to wait for the incentive check to come into the mail,” Fiordaliso said.

Fiordaliso said 46% of carbon emissions in New Jersey come from transportation sources, making it a worthy goal to try to have 330,000 electric vehicles in the state by 2025.

“Residents are making the switch to electric vehicles and want to be part of the solution to reduce their carbon footprint and fight climate change,” he said.

A law signed in January by Gov. Phil Murphy established the incentive program, designed to be $30 million a year for 10 years and funded through the state’s Clean Energy Fund, which derives its funds through a tax on utility bills.

The incentive is a maximum of $5,000 and available for electric vehicles costing up to $55,000. For its first year, it was equal to $25 per mail of a vehicle’s electric-only range, as rated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Vehicles with a battery range of 200 miles or more qualify for the full $5,000.

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Light-duty plug-in hybrid cars are eligible for smaller incentives through 2022.

The state also exempts all-electric vehicles from the 6.625% sales tax.

Funding for the program was temporarily reduced by $16 million in the summer, when the state adopted a three-month stopgap budget in response to pandemic-related fiscal uncertainty. The funding was restored when the fiscal year’s remaining nine-month budget was enacted in September.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.