MANCHESTER – For months now Councilman James Vaccaro has called for the development of an energy master plan which would involve alternate forms of energy including wind, solar and electric car charging stations.
That subject came up again during a recent Manchester Council meeting where Vaccaro repeated the need for such a plan and where Environmental Commission Chairman Rory Wells announced a proposal that is in line with the councilman’s ideas.
Councilman Vaccaro spoke about the need to establish a 10-year energy master plan applicable to the township that encompasses the use of “alternative resources of renewable energy. Wind, geothermal and more extensive use of solar energy applications.”
“General Motors and other automotive companies stated that in 2035 at the latest, but that in 2025 they will convert most of their automotive fleet to electric. Thus, we must to begin to plan now for installation of high-speed electrical battery charge stations within Manchester Township,” he said.
Vaccaro said this would also provide the township with an additional revenue source “that could be generated from the charging stations. We need to plan now with these sites that will surely be needed in the future.”
“The governor has also dedicated $10 million from two funds for electrified medium and heavy-duty vehicles. In 2025 to 2035 electric trucks will be the next electrified vehicles on New Jersey roads. It is a real situation I think we should address now,” Vaccaro said.
“To Councilman Vaccaro’s point about electric battery charging stations and the 10-year master plan, we have invested a significant amount of time figuring out where in the township we can do solar. Donna (Markulic, the Township Business Administrator) has spent many hours figuring this out and unfortunately most of our structures are not conducive to having solar and it is not profitable for us or the solar provider,” Mayor Kenneth Palmer said.
Palmer added, “for our basic infrastructure there is not a whole lot of places that we can do that. As to the electric car charging stations, it is my understanding that the Environmental Commission is going to take that task on to figure out what it would take, the benefits of it.”
Wells said during the meeting, “the Environmental Commission has set a goal to study the electrical vehicles and potentially propose a pilot proposal to the council and the mayor for next year’s budget 2022.”
“We will be evaluating the goal of two vehicles and two to four charging stations. I’ve done some initial ground work and talked to the (police) chief and to public works to determine which two vehicles, if we can get two. It is money dependent, and obviously if there was more grant money available to us for police vehicles as opposed to regular vehicles that would be the direction we would go,” Wells added.
Wells said there were a couple different pickup trucks that are coming on line. “We are looking for what would be the best ways to propose these vehicles and the charging stations. We are going to do a review and do a report and submit it to the council for your review. We are looking for grant money for the whole package. We just started the process.”
“The goal is to do something solid in the next fiscal year and hopefully with the charging stations we don’t have a big tourism draw but a lot of people do drive through our town from Pennsylvania and the charging station may get people to stop. Either way it is the future and we can be on the front end of this or the back end but eventually the fleets will go to electric and that will be the majority of vehicles on the road,” Wells said.
He added that the Environmental Commission would be making recommendations to the council in the future. “Councilman Vaccaro I will be in touch with you on what we are doing. Hopefully we can find money. I was given the contact of who I should talk to in the state about grant money and we will look for that obviously.”
Wells also said that the Commission would look for grant funding from the federal government as well. “There are regular cars, there are pickup trucks which could be used in a number of different venues and then there is electric school buses which seems to be picking up popularity lately so we will evaluate all of those and then we can hopefully contribute in a big way to put Manchester on the map moving forward.”
Council President Craig Wallis brought up a related topic concerning current energy costs. “I went to fill up my car the other day and it cost me an extra $20. People need to start paying attention and start to put some pressure on someone somewhere. It affects us and our county budget.”
“If we are paying that much more for gas and all the vehicles that we drive it means that much more money. The way our gas tax is set up in New Jersey is designed to raise so much money. If the gas price goes up people will drive less, they sell less gallons and they don’t pull in as much money they may start raising the gas tax more,” Wallis said.
Wallis added that “it is a cycle they are going into that could really bite us later on when you are trying to ship goods around.” He urged the press and the public “to pay attention to that little fact.”