CLF Proposes Clean Energy Incentive for Electric Vehicle Purchases


Government officials, industry representatives, and environmental advocates agree: it’s time to increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road in Massachusetts. EVs emit significantly less carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants into the air we breathe. Yet the market for EVs in Massachusetts is currently small, due largely to higher price tags, lack of incentives and little infrastructure. Thankfully, the enthusiasm at the recent Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Roundtable indicates that we are poised to do more for EVs in Massachusetts.

Earlier this month at the MA EV Roundtable, I described a new idea for encouraging EV purchasing in the Commonwealth that CLF has developed with Sonia Hamel of Hamel Environmental Consulting. The Clean Energy Bundle Incentive would provide purchasers of EVs free renewable electricity for charging their EVs at home. To achieve this, the state would purchase bulk renewable electricity and distribute it to interested customers as free energy. The state could ensure that the renewable energy, or the funds used to purchase the renewable energy, flows from existing Massachusetts renewable programs and efforts like the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (RPS). The state could choose to distribute the energy as either a direct rebate, in the form of a debit card, or as part of a contract. While the amount could be adjusted, we think that $2,000 is in the right ballpark for an amount to distribute per customer.

Bundling free, clean energy with the purchase of an EV stands out as an excellent option to incent EV purchases in Massachusetts. CLF believes that purchasing incentives are key to meaningful deployment of EVs in Massachusetts, and  we favor incentives that set new energy use paradigms, increase market alignment, and are educational for consumers. The Clean Energy Bundle Incentive achieves all three of these goals.

CLF believes the Clean Energy Bundle Incentive will be an effective incentive in the current EV market, and is bolstered by a study by McKinsey and PlanNYC on EVs in New York City. That report found that due to the still-fledgling market of EVs, lack of infrastructure, and small number of potential purchasers, incentives should target “early adopters,” a group committed to investing in green technology and being recognized for their investment. The Clean Energy Bundle Incentive targets these “early adopters” by doubling their investment in green technology, as their EV will run on renewable energy.

While the Clean Energy Bundle Incentive is a new concept for EVs, the idea has been piloted in the realm of natural gas vehicles. Honda is currently offering a $3,000 debit card for use at any Clean Energy brand gas station with the purchase of a Honda Civic Natural Gas, which gives the average owner about three years worth of fuel.

If you are interested in learning more about the Clean Energy Bundle Incentive or joining our advocacy efforts, I encourage you to contact me at jrushlow[at]clf.org.

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