Patrick Administration’s New Electric Vehicle Rebate Program Poised to Rev Up Key Clean Energy Sector

Jenny Rushlow

Last Thursday, Governor Deval Patrick announced the roll-out of a brand-new electric-vehicle (EV) rebate program in Massachusetts. At a celebration of the launch of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority’s electric transit bus fleet, Governor Patrick announced that the new $2 million initiative – the Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOREV) program – will provide rebates for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

The MOREV program provides rebates of up to $2,500 for plug-in hybrids or EVs with 10 Kilowatt hours (KWh) or greater electric storage capacity (e.g., battery or fuel cell), or up to $1,500 for plug-in hybrids or EVs with less than 10 KWh electric storage capacity. These rebates will be available for new purchased vehicles or leased vehicles with a minimum three-year lease.

Electric vehicles have much to offer – fewer emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and other air pollutants (such as particulate matter, with its well-documented detrimental health impacts); reduced fuel costs over the lifetime of the vehicle; less fuel price volatility than cars dependent on gasoline; and greater reliance on domestic fuel sources (including renewable energy sources), rather than foreign oil supplies.

State incentive programs like MOREV are designed to encourage consumers to purchase or lease EVs, with the goal of maximizing the environmental and economic benefits that those cars offer. When added to the federal EV tax credit of up to $7,500, these programs will help reduce the upfront costs of acquiring an EV. Given that those costs are still significantly higher than that of a traditional car or truck (a Leaf, Volt, or Plug-in Prius runs about $10,00–20,000 more than the traditional Ford Focus), reducing the sticker price is key to driving EV sales.

Also on Thursday, Governor Patrick announced the recipients of nearly $600,000 in grants distributed through round two of the Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP). The grants provide plug-in hybrid and EVs and “Level 2” charging infrastructure to municipalities, public universities, and state agencies. The Commonwealth has also invested in an electric school bus pilot, providing eight electric school buses with vehicle-to-grid energy storage capability, which can serve as a back-up energy source when necessary.

These advancements are a large step forward from this time last year. Last March, when CLF co-sponsored the Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Roundtable with the Patrick Administration, the Commonwealth was falling behind. In a policy presentation at the Roundtable, CLF pointed out that while MA is seen as a leader in clean energy policy initiatives, states like Florida, Georgia, and both Carolinas (and many others!) had more incentives for potential EV consumers than Massachusetts. Spurred by the Roundtable, the Patrick Administration took action by creating the Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Task Force, a group of stakeholders tasked with recommending policy actions and other steps needed to bolster EVs in Massachusetts. CLF holds a seat on the Task Force and in that role has strongly urged the Administration to pursue a consumer incentive program to help get EVs on the road here.

CLF is delighted that the Patrick Administration has taken the important step of launching a consumer rebate program for EVs in Massachusetts. And we applaud Massachusetts in particular for including leased EVs in the rebate program – an element that goes a step beyond many existing programs in other states, and is expected to increase EV market penetration significantly. In the last year, Massachusetts has gone from falling behind states like California on clean-vehicle efforts to becoming a leader – from joining seven other states in signing a memorandum of understanding to get 3.3 million EVs on the road by 2025 (300,000 in Massachusetts), to the recently announced MOREV consumer rebate program, which will make great strides toward achieving that goal. Given that the transportation sector is responsible for at least one-third of the GHG emissions in Massachusetts, these efforts – taken together with investments in public transportation and other measures to reduce emissions from the transportation sector – are an important step toward reaching the GHG emission reduction mandates set out in the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050).

Congratulations to the Patrick Administration for its increased leadership on EV deployment, and kudos on this important step toward reducing carbon pollution in the Commonwealth!

 

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