Metuchen discusses implementing more electric vehicle charging stations

METUCHEN – The excitement for electric vehicle charging stations was evident as the Borough Council discussed the possibility of implementing stations around Metuchen.

A few years ago, Councilwoman Dorothy Rasmussen said excitement surrounded the thought of ordering one $600 charging station for Borough Hall.

“This is so much more,” she said, calling the endeavor “amazing,” saying she hopes the process moves “as fast as possible.”

Rosie Lenoff, business development manager for Greenspot Smart Mobility, a transportation start up based in Jersey City, made a presentation before Mayor Jonathan Busch and the Borough Council at a meeting on Dec. 9.

“As a company we install and manage electrical vehicle (EV) charging stations for municipalities all throughout New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Ohio,” she said. “We have been working diligently to increase electric vehicle adoption and provide charging stations for people in accessible and conveniently located areas.”

Greenspot began in 2014 out of a real estate development firm and now, according to its website, specializes in developing and installing networks of publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations and in select locations offer shared electric mobility solutions.

The company, which works in the public and private sector, has already installed a row of EV charging stations in the Nexus Parking Systems garage in the borough and has installed stations in Asbury Park and Jersey City. Greenspot is also the winning bid for an exclusive EV car sharing program in a public right of way in Woodbridge.

Lenoff said installation will have no cost to the borough and the company works with local contractors to bring power to the location. She said the company takes advantage of various state programs through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and incentives offered for municipalities. She said the DEP has a Pays 2 Plug program, which will reimburse each applicant for a percentage of eligible costs.

“We work with local community members, local businesses and local installers to create a home base of coffee shops and restaurants to sponsor a station,” she said, explaining a customer could get 10-15% off a purchase at a coffee shop through an app by way of using the charging station program.

Lenoff said Greenspot’s proposed locations in the borough include the Metuchen Borough Public Library, 480 Middlesex Ave.; Pearl Street Parking Lot 10, 56 Pearl St.; New Street  Parking Lot 9, 99 New St.; Halsey Parking Lot 6, 25 Halsey St.; Edgar Middle School and Municipal Pool, 40 Lake Ave.; and Street Parking Meters 704 and 705.

With a proposed pilot program, Lenoff said they would start with two spots at each location and would build out future proofing for when the need to expand arises. Stations will be visible and accessible through a charging app.

Lenoff also explained that the locations could be flipped for municipality uses during the day and after a certain time flipped back over for the general public.

“Greenspot likes to make the information available on the app enticing for people to tweet about it or put it up on social media saying ‘Hey look how much CO2 (carbon dioxide) I have saved by using this charging station’ or ‘Look how much energy I’m using right now at this time’ to incentivize people to use the charging stations and to share with other folks it is available and it’s easy for them to use,” she said.

Lenoff said the New Jersey landscape on electric charging stations is exciting with Gov. Phil Murphy’s pledge to have 330,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025. Currently, there are approximately 25,000 EVs on the road, according to 2014 to 2018 data, Lenoff said.

“It’s a chicken and egg situation – are people going to adopt electric vehicles and then we are going to put in charging stations or are we going to put in charging stations and people then are going to adopt [electric] cars?” she said. “We think we are going to put in charging stations. Just because utilization might not be here right now, people will see the station, they will get to know it, ask questions about it and then they will be more likely to purchase their next car as an EV or a plug in hybrid or any variation of a sustainable vehicle.”

Lenoff reported that with EV stations, it increases Metuchen’s ability to have higher Sustainable Jersey ratings and also puts the borough on the map as a municipality that cares about sustainability and puts residents first when thinking about future plans.

Councilman Todd Pagel said the discussion with Greenspot is a year in a making of how can the borough increase EVs and how can the borough reduce traffic.

For more information visit www.joingreenspot.com.