The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) on Tuesday announced the expansion of the New Jersey Zero Emission Incentive Program (NJ ZIP) to support businesses and institutions statewide that are purchasing new, zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles operating in New Jersey. Last week, the NJEDA’s Board approved the $45 million expansion, through its Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) allocation, doubling the amount of funding dedicated to the program.
In addition to increased funding for the program, the NJEDA Board also approved two major eligibility changes from the earlier phase – expanding eligibility to include heavy-duty vehicle classes, and expanding statewide, beyond the four pilot communities in the first phase.
NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan was joined by Vanessa and Luis Abad outside the offices of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ), which was instrumental in promoting the pilot to business owners, to announce the expansion of the program. The Abads’ business, ENAT Transportation & Logistics, located in Ridgefield Park, was one of the first businesses approved for support under the program. The Abads and Sullivan, together with GreenPower Motor Company Regional Sales Manager Larry Sharp, placed “Powered by NJ ZIP” bumper stickers on four of the zero-emission medium-duty electric vehicles funded by NJ ZIP. GreenPower Motor Company is an authorized vendor under NJ ZIP from which ENAT Transportation & Logistics procured their vehicles.
As of last month, the NJEDA had approved 144 NJ ZIP applications totaling $32.2 million in vouchers for zero-emission medium-duty vehicles, with more applications still in process. The NJEDA anticipates the expansion of the program will allow 200-400 additional vouchers to be awarded. Over 90 percent of the entities approved to date are small businesses, and approximately 57 percent are minority- and/or woman-owned. The vehicles supported so far through the program are expected to result in the reduction of annual carbon emissions by more than 6,500 short tons within the communities in which they operate.
“Over 40 percent of New Jersey’s carbon emissions are produced by vehicles, so helping small businesses make the transition to zero-emission technology is a key step toward accelerating Governor Phil Murphy’s efforts to improve air quality, and create economic opportunity within the state,” said Sullivan. “Small businesses participating in the program are poised to reap the benefits of electric vehicle ownership by modernizing their fleets with environmentally friendly, state-of-the-art vehicles that not only reduce fuel costs and require less maintenance, but mitigate the harmful environmental impacts of transportation emissions in communities across New Jersey.”
ENAT Transportation & Logistics, one of the first NJ ZIP awardees to receive its vehicles, is on its way to transitioning its entire commercial fleet to electric vehicles within the next five years and is currently working with Bergen Community College to serve as a location to house their zero-emission vehicles as part of the Bergen Community College Business Accelerator.
“NJ ZIP is a fantastic resource for small businesses like mine to afford transitioning to an electric fleet as we strive to reduce our carbon footprint and the additional bonus it provides gives woman-owned minority businesses, like mine, the opportunity for progress,” said Vanessa Abad. “The additional $40,000 in bonuses we received for being a minority and women-owned small business has allowed us to compete with other transportation companies in an industry that has traditionally been operated by men.”
In addition to expanding the program’s funding capacity, the NJEDA will also work to identify a New Jersey university partner to provide technical assistance as part of the NJ ZIP program. This assistance will provide critical guidance to small businesses as they are applying for zero-emission vehicle vouchers.
The NJEDA anticipates opening applications, including those for businesses in newly-eligible parts of the state, in the coming months. Vouchers will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. More information on NJ ZIP, including all eligibility requirements for vendors and purchasers, is available at https://www.njeda.com/njzip.