We spoke to Anthony Chancro, the Town Administrator of Plainsboro Township in New Jersey, about the process of procuring EV charging as a public entity for the public and the city fleet, as well as the incentives he utilized to make it a smart decision for his town.
What is your role, and how did that lead you to implement EV chargers?
My position is the person who runs the day to day function of the town, equivalent to a CEO in the private sector. I’m an administrator that works with all the department heads to carry out the mission of the town.
My background is promoting environmental awareness and movements away from fossil fuels to the extent possible, with the balance of affordability because government has to always weigh the option of the cost-benefit.
I came into it on a personal level, and the backdrop is that the state is progressively moving toward environmental and sustainable practices.
The other push to install EV charging was Sustainable Jersey.
How has Sustainable Jersey promoted your efforts to install EV chargers?
Sustainable Jersey is a nonprofit entity in New Jersey that promotes sustainability practices. One of their goals is improving fleet operations in the context of either hybrids or electric vehicles. You get medals based on how many environmental practices you put into place; you get points and if you have enough points, you can become certified – either bronze, silver or gold – in your level of practices that you have implemented in your town.
Sustainable Jersey has done a great job of getting corporate and foundation funding that they use as grants to help towns implement some of these policies.
For EV chargers, our State Department of Environment Protection might give you $6,000 and Sustainable Jersey might give you $5,000 of the $15,000 installation project. You have to be certified at one of the levels to be eligible for that funding.
What was the process of selecting an EV charging solution like?
The first place I went was to our state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), because they give grants out. The way it works here, applicants go to DEP and inform them of proposed cost and the company for installation.
When I talked to the state representative, I asked, “What company are most of the towns that are applying for using?” And the number one answer was ChargePoint. I was ready to go with them at our expense until I realized I could get into the Electrify America program with EV Connect and got the grant money to do it for free.
We have a company here in New Jersey called NRG, who built their headquarters in the next town over. We were fortunate enough to have a staff meeting there and they’ve got a state of the art building, it’s Leed certified, they have a couple of wind turbines and solar panels, and they had charging stations in front of the building for guests and people who worked there.
I reached out to them and asked them what brand they use, and it was you. So if it was okay for NRG, who had unlimited budget, the type that was going to be installed here was fine. It wasn’t going to be ChargePoint.
What was your goal with the stations?
The goal was two things: first, to transition for the municipal fleet (where practical) to go to electric vehicles, and secondly, to open up the charging station we have to the public for their convenience.
Particularly, we wanted EV charging for the inspectors that go out and inspect buildings and commercial and residential, they are the most logical cause they are only in town.
Additionally, this is the first year we are going to be purchasing new hybrid Ford police vehicles. While not totally electric, they are hybrids, which is a step in the right direction.
How have people responded to the new EV chargers?
The people that are working with me on Sustainable Jersey are very excited that this is creating a new direction.
It’s a trend to something other than what we’ve had in the past, which is in internal combustion engines. The ones that understand are excited about it.