NEW JERSEY – New Jersey state parks are among the latest recipients of funding to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure, giving visitors the opportunity to both appreciate and protect the environment while quietly charging their vehicles during outings, according to Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette.
In March, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities awarded more than $1 million in grants for the installation of electric vehicle chargers at 24 key tourist destinations across the Garden State as part of New Jersey’s Electric Vehicle Tourism program. That includes $45,000 to the New Jersey State Park Service for 10 Level 2 charging stations at parks and forests across the state. In July, BPU announced another round of awards, which included $150,000 for two DC fast chargers that will be installed at Liberty State Park in Hudson County. In total, BPU has provided more than $5 million in awards to install chargers at more than 60 key tourist destinations statewide.
“The availability of EV chargers at scenic and recreational destinations throughout the state encourages residents and out-of-state travelers to choose New Jersey to charge up and unwind at any of our many destination points, whether it’s a park, down the shore, or at a historic site,” LaTourette said. “We’re pleased to offer this new amenity and are excited to see park visitors charge their vehicles while enjoying their day outdoors.”
The DEP has prioritized which properties to receive the chargers based on electrical feasibility, parking lot layout and structure, and the number of daily and overnight visitors. Two charging stations are in place and operational at Round Valley Reservoir (Hunterdon County). Other properties scheduled to receive two Level 2 charging stations include Cheesequake State Park (Middlesex), High Point State Park (Sussex), Wawayanda State Park (Sussex and Passaic), and Wharton State Forest – Batsto Village (Burlington).
New Jersey state parks receive millions of visitors each year, making them popular tourist attractions. Round Valley is the first state park area to receive two EV chargers. The property is easily accessible from Interstate 78 and, like most parks in the state parks system, has high visitation, especially during summer. In 2021, Round Valley Recreation Area received more than 654,000 visitors and more than 3,000 overnight campers.
The charging stations were made possible with funding assistance from the BPU as part of its Electric Vehicle Tourism grant program, which provides funding for chargers at tourist locations across the state.
“During the last two years, the Board has taken substantial steps to build out its electric vehicle incentive program and a robust electric vehicle charging network,” said BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “Our EV Tourism program is helping ease range anxiety for residents and visitors alike to the many wonderful attractions our state offers like our State Parks. All of our EV incentive programs are aimed directly at reducing the 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey that come from vehicles.”
The BPU’s Electric Vehicle Tourism program eliminates barriers to purchasing electric vehicles by investing in electric vehicle infrastructure and reducing range anxiety for residents and tourists visiting New Jersey. These types of initiatives help move the state closer to Governor Murphy’s goal of having 330,000 EVs on the road by 2025, reducing transportation emissions and achieving the Governor’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
The electrification of the state’s transportation sector, which accounts for more than 40 percent of New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions, is a key step toward achieving Governor Murphy’s clean energy and climate mitigation goals. Expanding EV infrastructure across the state will eliminate barriers to purchasing electric vehicles by reducing range anxiety for residents and tourists visiting New Jersey.
A timeline for the installation and operation of the 10 Level 2 charging stations and the two fast chargers will be announced at a later date. In the meantime, the State Park Service will continue to evaluate opportunities for additional EV charging stations in parks to help reduce energy usage and enhance visitor experience.