Connecticut Considers Options to Make EV Rebates More Equitable

The need for clean, sustainable energy could not have been greater. As polar ice caps melt and wildfires become commonplace, governments have put in motion plans to replace carbon based energy with cleaner solar and wind derived energy. Electric cars will play a big part in reducing our carbon emissions, but there are a couple of factors standing in the way of widespread electric vehicle (“EV”) adoption. Chief among them is cost: electric vehicles are crazy expensive to produce and unfortunately, these costs are usually passed down to the consumer, thus confining most EVs on the market to high income individuals.

In Connecticut, the board overlooking the state’s electric vehicle program has been pondering on how to tweak the program to incorporate used vehicles and attract more low-to-moderate-income buyers, something the EV space has been lacking. A proposal that’s under consideration would maintain the current point-of-sale rebates of $1,500 for new electric vehicles with a battery range of more than 200 miles and $500 for all others. Additionally, a supplemental rebate of $1,500 to $2,000 would be available to income-eligible households, a first for the state.

However, many of the 100-plus public comments submitted last month in response to the proposal have said that the base rebate amounts are too low, especially compared to neighboring states. According to comments submitted to the Sierra Club’s Washington, D.C. office, the $1,500 max is well below that of New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts which offer new vehicle rebates from $2,000 to $5,000.

The low rebates were set last October when the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Program was low on funding. To stretch out the remaining funding to 2020, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection lowered the rebates. Although the reduced rates led to a reduction in the number of rebates issued, staff at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection were wary of raising the base rebates as they are adding used vehicle rebates and income-eligible supplements this year, says Paul Farrell, the agency’s Director of Air Planning.

The agency’s new governing board was established by legislation that was passed last year, with the legislation providing for $3 million in annual funding through 2025. According to the agency’s recent Electric Vehicle Roadmap, the new level of funding will support an estimated 13,000 to 16,000 rebates over five years, depending on price trends, availability of federal incentives, and economic conditions.

Experts say companies like Net Element Inc. (NASDAQ: NETE) could be pleased that the state authorities are proactively finding ways to make electric vehicles more affordable for the general public.

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