Frank Romeo Jr. is getting a charge out of electric cars these days.
As president of Partner Engineering and Science Inc. in Eatontown, Romeo has been busy working with real estate developers who want to incorporate electric charging stations into their projects across the state.
“In general, there is a larger awareness of the use of electric vehicles and the need to accommodate tenants or patrons who utilize them,” Romeo said. “Currently, electric car charging stations are popping up at retail, restaurant and recreation sites so that your car can charge while you are shopping and eating. This also creates an opportunity for retailers and landlords in that the provision of a charging station, or multiple charging stations, will attract tenants or shoppers for a given period of time.”
Electric cars and the infrastructure needed to support this growing trend is on New Jersey’s real estate radar, partially fueled by Gov. Phil Murphy’s efforts to promote zero emissions.
“In a state like New Jersey, many people take longer commutes and as the number of electric car owners increase, the need for these charging stations will continue to grow,” Romeo said. “Charging stations are being installed in existing centers, again an opportunity to attract shopping or dining patrons, and in office and residential buildings in an effort to attract the sustainability-conscious tenant.”
Since 2016, the state has funded 186 charging stations across the state, with preliminary approval for $3.6 million in grants for 570 additional stations.
As of December, there were 15,685 electric vehicles registered in New Jersey – up from just 535 in 2012, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
Mack-Cali Realty Corp. CEO Michael DeMarco said his company has installed the electric charging stations in six of its properties throughout the state, with another 10 in the works. The properties include both resident and commercial projects.
“As we redesign buildings, we’re adding them where we can find the space,” DeMarco said. “It’s pretty economical as people gravitate more and more to this. We put them wherever we think it’s appropriate. You think about it the way you think about any sustainability project. How do you make things more economically sound for the future?”
The cost of installing the stations depends on the infrastructure already in place, said DeMarco, with costs ranging from under $50,000 to as much as $250,000.
The NJDEP has been full-steam ahead in promoting electric car use through a number of initiatives and been encouraging employers to make workplaces “electric vehicle-ready” with programs like the “It Pay$ to Plug in” grant program, which offers incentives to workplaces who install charging stations.