BPU Approves Weak PSE&G Settlement
Approved plan lays groundwork for limited vehicle electrification, but undercuts other state efforts to transformation
(TRENTON, NJ – Jan. 27, 2021) Four environmental groups today responded to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ (BPU) approval of a partial settlement of Public Service Electric & Gas Company’s (PSE&G) Clean Energy Future Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Program. The settlement includes a $166.2 million investment in light-duty electric vehicle infrastructure, but delays any action on the critically important medium- and heavy-duty vehicle and energy storage portions of PSE&G’s original 2018 proposal.
Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Environment New Jersey filed comments for the BPU’s review of the proposed settlement, voicing concern at the watered-down initiative. PSE&G’s original proposal included $261 million for light-duty and medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles as well as energy storage. In the proceeding, these organizations advocated for a more robust light-duty program, and more meaningful progress to lay the groundwork for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification. At a time when the New Jersey legislature and the BPU’s sibling agencies are taking steps to encourage fleet owners to purchase electric buses and trucks, this partial settlement increases the likelihood that the lack of charging infrastructure will continue to undermine those efforts.
“Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for a disproportionately large amount of harmful emissions that negatively impact New Jersey’s public health,” said Elizabeth B. Stein, Lead Counsel, Energy Transition Strategy at Environmental Defense Fund. “While this proposal lays the groundwork to address pollution by electrifying transportation, the settlement parties and the Board have missed an important opportunity to address diesel truck and bus pollution in some of New Jersey’s most overburdened communities.”
“This settlement does not match the scale and scope of investment needed to achieve New Jersey’s ambitious climate goals,” said Kathy Harris, Clean Vehicles and Fuels Advocate at NRDC. “The transportation sector is by far the largest emitter of harmful greenhouse gases in New Jersey. While the state has set bold climate targets, we need an all hands-on deck approach. If New Jersey is going to achieve its climate goals, utilities must step it up – and fast.”“The biggest source of air pollution and GHGs in New Jersey comes from the transportation sector. The BPU needs to be accelerating our electric vehicle programs, especially infrastructure. The lack of infrastructure leads to range anxiety, so instead of moving forward this settlement has us stuck in first gear,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We’re never going to meet our state goals for electrifying cars and trucks unless the BPU removes the roadblocks in the way. They need to lead when it comes to building the infrastructure we need to help create green jobs and move our green economy forward. This is especially important in Environmental Justice and low- and moderate-income communities.”
“The legislative mandate of the EV bill, the Clean Cars Act and the electric truck MOU creates a steep road forward to accelerate vehicle electrification and we need to use those aggressive benchmarks to guide our policy,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “We advocated for the inclusion of investments for the electrification of medium and heavy-duty vehicles that was initially part of this settlement because the charging infrastructure for trucks, transit and school buses is a stumbling block on the path towards electrification. It is critical for NJBPU and utilities to prioritize these investments moving forward.”
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