Full steam ahead?

Jersey City takes lead in electrification of vehicles

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Workers install solar panels on the Department of Public Works roof
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In 2014, ten curbside EV stations were installed for public use.
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The city has installed two recharging stations in the City Hall parking lot.
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Scranton, PA. was once known as Electric City.
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Workers install solar panels on the Department of Public Works roof
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In 2014, ten curbside EV stations were installed for public use.
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The city has installed two recharging stations in the City Hall parking lot.
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Scranton, PA. was once known as Electric City.

Jersey City is plunging ahead with a plan to make its fleet of vehicles electric by 2030.

And Jersey City has already begun developing a number of key pieces of the program.

Although Scranton, Pa. was once touted as the Electric City, Jersey City is one of the first major cities in the nation to make strides to converting from fossil fuel vehicles to electric.

Even before urging the state last April to pass laws that would help municipalities pay the cost of conversion, the city was already installing new charging stations for electric cars and requiring some of its public buildings to have solar panels on their roofs.

The city recently purchased electric trash collecting trucks, and has installed charging stations at its Department of Public Works facility, which will be powered by vast solar panels installed on the roofs of DPW buildings.

“The city has already taken steps to build an electric fleet,” said Jersey City Spokesperson Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione. “We have new electric vehicles in DPW. These include recharging stations which are powered by solar panels. The city has also purchased more powerful hybrid street sweepers.”

Jersey City purchased four electric vehicles earlier this year to service the DPW and is in the process of purchasing more electric vehicles to replace older vehicles currently in operation.

Mayor Steven Fulop said that by incorporating electric vehicles into the municipal fleet, and providing charging stations for the community, the city is taking necessary steps towards increasing quality of life with cleaner, healthier air.

In 2017, the Jersey City Council adopted an ordinance that authorized the installation of an electric vehicle (EV) charging station “zone” for electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles – the first in the state.

The city had authorized the installation of these stations in the Powerhouse District as early as 2014, when 10 curbside EV stations were installed for public use.

Currently 22 such stations are operating in Jersey City, almost exclusively in the downtown area, although Councilman Michael Yun, who represents the Heights, said this will change.

“We do not want all of these stations downtown,” he said.

City workers will ride-share in electric vehicles

In a pilot program approved by the Jersey City Council at the July 17 meeting, the city is taking the next step to modernize its municipal fleet as well as to adopt new ride-share policies.

Under the new program, said Kate Lawrence, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, employees of city hall, who have in the past had vehicles assigned to them, will begin sharing vehicles.

The six month pilot program will affect about 40 workers and would require them to reserve use of a vehicle.

She said a study showed that vehicles currently assigned to departments or specific workers are idle most of the time.

“The program will allow workers to reserve a vehicle for a specific time,” Lawrence said. “This would allow a number of people to have access. An employee would be able to reserve date and time.”

There are currently five electric vehicles available and if the pilot is successful the program would likely be expanded to cover most city employees.

She said this will include upgrading the city’s fleet from fossil fuel vehicles to electric.

“More than half the vehicles in the fleet of city cars are more ten years or older,” she said. “The city is committed to having 50 percent of all its vehicles as electric by 2025 and 75 percent by 2030.”

To accommodate electric vehicles at City Hall, the city has installed two recharging stations in the parking lot. Another recharging station has been installed on Marin Drive for public use.

Lawrence said the pilot program will also allow the city to keep track of vehicle use, who uses these vehicles, where they go and when.

For updates on this and other stories check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Al Sullivan can be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com