ATL. HIGHLANDS – “This is very good news for Atlantic Highlands,” said Councilman Brian Dougherty, after it was announced the borough has received two grants for Electronic Vehicle (EV) charging stations.

   Announcement of the grants represents more than a year’s work by the borough’s Environmental Commission. These efforts intensified in January when Dougherty became a councilman and was named council representative to the Commission.

     Commission Chairman Blake Deakin has been a long time researcher into EV chargers and has been in touch with a number of companies that supply stations. Last year, the commission chairman also presented a PowerPoint presentation that went back into the history of electric vehicles, their decline in use and their rejuvenation in the 21st century. The PowerPoint  also supplied information on the kilowatt hours of batteries, the impact of emissions on renewable energy and the types of emissions,  what the stations are, their benefits, deficits, and how municipalities can benefit  in tax dollars. The presentation is available here:

YouTube player

   Dougherty declined to take credit for the grant awards, stressing the receipt of the grants was a team effort which included Deakin, Councilman Brian Boms, who was council representative to the Environmental Commission last year, and was helpful throughout the process, and borough administrator Robert Ferragina.

    As announced at the meeting of the Mayor and Council last week, the grants were awarded as Tourism Grants from the NJ Board of Public utilities. Dougherty explained they are not matching grants, but rather will reimburse costs incurred to have EV chargers installed.

   A grant for two dual-port Level Two charges, worth up to $9,000 in installation and ‘make ready’ costs was one of the two the borough received. The second grant is for up to $75,000 for a Level Three/Direct Current Fast Charger which would include all necessary electrical infrastructure to operate the changing stations, along with all the conduit and wire to the station locations, and all the concrete work to make the stations mounted along with any cellular repeaters if they are part of the installation.

     Deakin, who has obviously done considerable study on EVs and their advantages and disadvantages, pointed out the differences and advantages of both a Level 2 and a Level 3 charger as well as other benefits of the EV car batteries.

  Councilman Dougherty said the borough is waiting for additional instructions from the PBU to be contained in their official letter from the state on the grant awards.

   Once the borough receives that, he said the Environmental Commission will schedule a workshop session during a Mayor and Council meeting to discuss the procedure for continuing to move forward and to explain the many benefits of EV charging stations. The borough would then have up until June of next year in order to complete the work so the money spent on the stations would then be reimbursed in full.

  Dougherty explained why he thinks the grants are a boon for the borough.  “The Route 36 corridor is currently an EV charger desert,” he said. “Aside from the stations recently installed at Bahr’s Restaurant in Highlands, I’m not aware of any EV charging stations along Route 36 between Sandy Hook and the Garden State Parkway.”

   With EV charging stations here, he continued, “Any visitors coming to our area to use the beaches at Sandy Hook or Sea Bright, for example, would have to venture over to Route 35 to find a charge for their EV. When these stations are installed in Atlantic Highlands, it would be a definite attraction for visitors to frequent our restaurants and shops downtown while their vehicle is charging. And, as we all know, once people discover how wonderful Atlantic Highlands is, they will come back.”

  The charging station at Bahr’s is reportedly offered at no charge to the customer, and charges at a comparatively slow rate and could mean it would take a minimum of ten hours to fill a standard EV.  However, the restaurant could elect at any time to change its pricing schedule.

   The borough charging stations could be set at the owner’s own price and the borough would receive a portion of that overall charge.  Dougherty said the rates will be set by the terms of the contract in which the borough enters with whichever commercial EV charging vendor the borough selects.  Since all that is still to be determined once the borough gets the necessary approvals to proceed with the work under the grant reimbursement.

 Dougherty said, “We are not quite at that point yet, but will certainly be happy to share all additional details with the public as they become clearer.” However, the Commission is continuing to study the utilization rates of chargers in other towns which they have and will gather additional data and will incorporate assumptions into a revenue plan for this borough.

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Muriel J. Smith

Muriel J Smith

Muriel J Smith an award-winning journalist, former newspaper editor, book author and historian, Her newest venture is her blog, in...