On September 2, 2021, the second anniversary of launching its electric vehicle (EV) rebate program — the EV Accelerator Program — Efficiency Maine announced it will extend the program for another year.
Efficiency Maine estimates it has sufficient funds to help defray the cost of approximately 2,500 more EV purchases in the next year. Twenty-five percent of the funds are reserved for income-eligible buyers. Efficiency Maine estimates the vehicles added with these funds can save Maine drivers a total of $2 million per year in fuel costs, and more than $18 million over the lifetime of the vehicles. Those same vehicles will prevent an estimated 82,000 tons of CO2 from being emitted over the course of their on-road lifetimes. The funding for the next year of the rebate program comes from a one-time $5 million payment received from the settlement of the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project, approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission on May 3, 2019.
“The Maine Climate Council identified cars and trucks as the state’s largest source of carbon pollution and recommended shifting to EVs as one of the best ways to achieve Maine’s carbon reduction targets,” said Michael Stoddard, executive director of the Efficiency Maine Trust.
“The transition to EVs is picking up speed,” said Amalia Siegel, EV program manager for Efficiency Maine. “We’re seeing a surge in the number of rebates we issue thanks to the introduction of new EV models with longer range, increased availability of public charging, and growing consumer acceptance of EV technology. In recent months, Efficiency Maine rebate numbers have increased to more than 250% of pre-pandemic levels.”
Efficiency Maine will also use the funds to continue to produce a suite of educational materials to help Maine consumers overcome barriers to EVs. Mainers can find extensive information on the website efficiencymaine.com/ev about EVs, EV rebates, and EV charging. There they can also find the new guidebook on “How to Select and Install a Home Electric Vehicle Charger” and an instructional video on the different ways to pay for a charge at any public charging plug.
Recently, the Governor’s Energy Office and the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future kicked off an initiative to develop a Clean Transportation Roadmap to 2030, one of the key transportation recommendations of the Maine Climate Council. The Roadmap seeks to identify necessary policies, programs, and regulatory changes needed to meet the state’s transportation emission reduction goals.
“With increasing federal support for electric vehicles and given the recent growth in EV sales in Maine, it’s great to see Efficiency Maine’s rebate program extended for another year,” said Dan Burgess, director of the Governor’s Energy Office. “As more options for electric cars and trucks come onto the market, this one-time funding from the NECEC stipulation will help Maine’s economy and environment by enabling more Maine people to purchase an EV and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”
Efficiency Maine programs provide instant rebates for eligible battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) at 66 participating car dealers in Maine. The standard rebate is $2,000 for a BEV and $1,000 for a PHEV. Higher rebates are available for low-income customers, governmental entities, and select nonprofits. For a limited time, Efficiency Maine is offering a promotion for businesses on the purchase of two to 10 vehicles, paying rebates of $4,500 on a BEV or $3,500 on a PHEV for the first 50 vehicles on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more, visit https://www.efficiencymaine.
Efficiency Maine’s EV work also includes an initiative to install a network of universal, publicly accessible EV chargers across Maine. A first phase of this initiative used funds from the settlement of a federal lawsuit against Volkswagen to develop high-speed EV chargers (also called “Level 3” chargers or “DC fast chargers”) on the Maine Turnpike at the Kennebunk plazas (northbound and southbound) and the West Gardiner plaza, as well as in Jackman, Skowhegan, Farmington and North Windham. A subsequent phase is in the process of developing public high-speed EV chargers in Lewiston-Auburn, Fairfield, Newport, Bangor, Ellsworth and Belfast using a previously received $1.5 million from the NECEC settlement.
In addition to installing these publicly accessible fast chargers, Efficiency Maine is also supporting the expansion of lower-cost, public Level 2 chargers in other strategic locations across the state. To date, it has helped fund 150 new, public plugs in Maine’s public EV charging network, which has now grown to a total of 120 DC high-speed charging plugs and 395 Level 2 “community” plugs.
The NECEC stipulation with HydroQuebec and Central Maine Power was agreed to by several parties including the Conservation Law Foundation, Acadia Center, the Industrial Energy Consumers Group, the Office of the Public Advocate, and the Governor’s Energy Office.
The funds comprise of one of several elements of funding from the NECEC settlement that have been directed to Efficiency Maine to help advance the dual objectives of lowering energy costs for Maine consumers and reducing carbon pollution. Other elements of the settlement have previously sent $2.4 million to Efficiency Maine, which it has begun deploying to promote high-performance heat pump systems, heat pump water heaters, and weatherization in qualified low- and moderate-income homes and in K-12 schools.
To learn more about electric vehicle technology and how to maximize its benefits visit www.efficiencymaine.com/ev. Drivers can also find a charging station locator on the Efficiency Maine website or by using a variety of available smartphone apps.