By Tom Ballard
A new program has the College driving in a greener direction. On Wednesday, July 27, the College hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally introduce a pilot program with the Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) that placed five new charging stations for faculty and staff to charge their electric vehicles (EV) on campus.
“The College… is proud to partner with PSE&G on this innovative project that further advances our longstanding and broad-based environmental sustainability goals,” College President R. Barbara Gitenstein said at the event, according to a press release. “Through the generous support of PSE&G, we are now able to provide our faculty and staff with access to electric vehicle charging stations, reaffirming our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint in a fiscally responsible way.”
The EV charging stations located in Lot 7 are available free-of-charge for faculty and staff who own electric vehicles, according to the press release. As part of the pilot program agreement, PSE&G provided the EV charging stations free-of-charge, while the College will pay for the installation and continual maintenance of the stations as well as the electricity cost, according to the press release.
The decision to join the pilot program with PSE&G is part of the College’s goal to reduce its carbon footprint, according to Head Media Relations Officer Tom Beaver.
“For the College, the EV charging station project is well-aligned with our long-held goal of reducing our carbon footprint,” Beaver said. “The partnership with PSE&G enabled us to provide this benefit to current and future EV users in a cost-effective way.”
The charging stations come nine years after Gitenstein signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, a national initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance environmental sustainability on college campuses across the country, Beaver said. Since then, the College has also adopted its Climate Action Plan, a 33-page document developed under the guidance of the President’s Climate Commitment Committee that sets forth goals to make the College more environmentally efficient.
Beaver also stated that the College community has expressed a high level of interest in the stations and he expects to see more EV drivers take advantage of them as awareness about the program spreads.
“We’ve already seen significant interest in the stations, and anticipate that as awareness increases, other EV drivers will begin to take advantage of this unique on-campus benefit,” Beaver said. “Access begets demand, and we’re glad that we can do our part to encourage broader adoption of this technology statewide.”
EV owners will not have to pay for using the charging stations, according to Beaver. While the stations will only be made available to staff and faculty, Beaver said that the College is considering working with PSE&G to make them available to students, but will first have to determine the feasibility of expanding the working capacity of the stations.
According to the press release, PSE&G will be able to collect real-world data about how the vehicle chargers in the pilot program are used. This will allow the company to see how large-scale EV charging could have on the electric grid, identify areas of potential high-EV charger density and plan for any infrastructure upgrades that may be needed in the future.
The PSE&G pilot program currently has 60 charging stations operational at 11 different locations across the state. The goal of the program is to have 120 stations, according to the press release. According to a press release from Tuesday, March 29, the company plans on reaching that goal by the end of the year.
“As the mileage range of electric vehicles continues to increase, we can expect that they will become more popular both across the country and in New Jersey,” Vice President of Renewables and Energy Solutions at PSE&G Courtney McCormick said, according to the press release. “By partnering with organizations like (the College), PSE&G is helping to provide the needed infrastructure to support EV owners now while also demonstrating to potential owners that EVs are a viable option in the future.”