Spring 2020 issue

Article and photo of recharging EV by Ramona du Houx

A new Maine $2,000 rebate may be just the incentive some need to choose electric vehicles (EVs) along with reducing pollution, and curbing the state’s reliance on imported fossil fuels. The EV Accelerator program is offered as an instant rebate for Maine customers at all participating Maine car dealer.

When combined with federal incentives, Maine residents can now get up to $9,500 off the purchase of a new electric vehicle.

Driving an electric car in Maine is the pollution equivalent of driving a gasoline-powered car that gets 107 miles per gallon, according to a calculator available from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Maine people shell out five billion dollars a year to out-of-state fossil fuel companies, and a lot of that money is spent on gas for vehicles that just becomes carbon dioxide pumped into our atmosphere. It is time to usher in the next generation of technologies that will move our state towards a renewable future,” said Governor Mills. “This initiative is a critical step in that direction. By increasing our use of electric vehicles, Maine is making substantial and meaningful progress in transitioning us away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources, which will help slash carbon emissions, combat climate change, and save Maine people money.”

Maine is the 14th state to offer a rebate or tax credit on the purchase of electric vehicles. States with financial incentives for EVs have experienced 15-25 percent higher sales of plug-in vehicles compared to the national average.

“Adding incentives for clean, efficient electric cars to the portfolio of energy efficiency programs already offered by Efficiency Maine is a forward-looking step for the state. Whether you look at investments by car manufacturers or commitments from countries across the globe, it is unquestionable that our transportation future is electric,” said Dylan Voorhees Clean Energy Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

The rebate will be offered by Efficiency Maine in coordination with car dealers across the state. It is funded by a legal settlement with Volkswagen aimed at reducing harmful air pollution from gas-powered cars and trucks. In 2017, then-Attorney General Janet Mills won through a settlement more than $5.1 million for the state after taking legal action against Volkswagen (VW) and its affiliates Audi AG and Porsche AG for violating state environmental laws and emissions through their marketing and sales of light vehicles in Maine.

The Electric Vehicle Accelerator Program will use those settlement funds to provide $1,000-$2,000 rebates on qualifying Plug-in Hybrid and Battery Electric Vehicles. It also offers enhanced rebates for low-income households and for governmental and tribal government entities.

Efficiency Maine has also been using funds from a separate Volkswagen settlement to invest in an expanded network of charging stations at key travel, commuting, and visitor locations across Maine.

“We’re excited to be offering programs that will make it more accessible for Mainers to not only save at the pump, but to get into an extremely fun ride that is also kind to the climate,” said Michael Stoddard, Executive Director of Efficiency Maine Trust.

In 2018, a survey of Maine electric car owners conducted by NRCM found that more than 1,300 Mainers own electric cars, and the top two reasons for purchasing an electric vehicle were to reduce air pollution (76 percent) and save money on gasoline (50 percent). More than 90 percent would recommend them to friends and family.

“Maine’s new car dealers welcome the EV rebate program as an assist to their customers looking at this new and exciting technology. Rebate-eligible vehicles are currently available, and many more will be coming as manufacturers expand their EV production. Dealers look forward to the opportunity to introduce customers to the EV products and incorporate any applicable rebate,” said Tom Brown, President, Maine Automobile Dealers Association.

Program details, and the list of eligible vehicles and participating dealers is available online at efficiencymaine.com/E