State launching rebate program for electric car purchases next week

·3 min read

PROVIDENCE – A rebooted state incentive for the purchase of electric cars is set to roll out July 7.

Gov. Dan McKee on Tuesday announced the start-date for the $1.25-million program that aims to make new and used electric vehicles more affordable to Rhode Islanders.

It comes as supply chain problems are causing long wait times for some electric cars. McKee said the program will help people get their orders in now for when the backups end.

“We’re launching this now to make sure we get ahead of the curve,” he said at Roger Williams Park Zoo as he stood in front of a pair of charging stations.

A charging station at Barrington's Police Cove Park.
A charging station at Barrington's Police Cove Park.

The DRIVEEV program picks up where a pilot initiative that ran from 2016 to 2017 left off. While that initial round of $575,000 in funding helped state residents buy about 250 electric cars, the new round is expected to lead to about 500 purchases of Chevy Bolts, Nissan Leafs, Hyundai IONIQs and others electric models.

That amount would equate to about a 10 percent bump in the number of electric cars in Rhode Island, which currently stands at 5,627, according to the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources.

The initiative to expand the electric vehicle fleet is part of a push to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, as set out by the Act on Climate, a landmark law enacted last year.

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The foundation of the transition is an increase in the amount of renewable energy the state buys. An update to Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Standard that is set to be signed into law on Wednesday sets a target of 2033 to offset 100 percent of the state’s electricity with power from solar, wind and the like.

So even as electric vehicles will largely still rely on fossil fuel resources to charge their batteries in the near term, over the longer term they will depend more on renewables.

The money for DRIVEEV is coming from federal funds, the state’s share of money from a regional cap-and-invest program for power plant emissions, and other sources.

Rebates will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis to Rhode Island residents, small businesses, nonprofits and public entities.

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For residents, rebates of up to $2,500 will be available for the purchase or lease of new cars and up to $1,500 for used cars. For low-income Rhode Islanders, an additional rebate of $2,000 is also being offered.

Details on rebates for other qualifying entities and more information about the program can be found at drive.ri.gov.

The funding for electric vehicles comes at the same time the state is moving to expand its network of 260 charging stations. The budget approved Monday allocates $23 million in federal infrastructure funds for the installation of new stations, with an initial focus on the Interstate 95 corridor.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Rhode Island re-launches program rebate incentive to buy electric cars