Shearer Chevrolet's Steve Dinco explains the new incentives on the Volt and Bolt EV's, with VEC's Christine Hallquist, WEC's Patty Richards, GMP's Mary Powell, Governor Scott, and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger at Burlington Electric Department Tuesday. VBM photos.
by Timothy McQuiston Vermont Business Magazine Freedom Nissan Co-Owner Robert Miller said his Leaf, an all-electric vehicle, had the second highest sales of all Nissan dealers in America in July, second only to San Francisco (61-55 cars sold). In August, Freedom was third in the nation, only because they ran out of the EV's, and while the incentive program technically runs through the end of the year, he only has a few cars left, and he only has those because he finagled them from a dealer in Washington state. The reason for all this, of course, is the $10,000 incentive from the dealer, the $7,500 federal tax credit and the $1,200 local utility rebate, which brought the approximate $30,000 car down to just $11,300.
Vermont utility representatives from Burlington Electric Department (BED), Green Mountain Power (GMP), Stowe Electric Department (SED), Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC), Washington Electric Cooperative (WEC), and Drive Electric Vermont (DEV), along with Governor Phil Scott and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, today announced new electric vehicle (EV) incentives designed to provide opportunities for all Vermonters to transition from fossil fuel burning vehicles to EVs. The incentives included:
- Additional rebates from BED and GMP for EV purchases by low- and moderate-income Vermonters;
- General Motors employee pricing on Bolt EVs and Volt plug-in hybrids from Shearer Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac through October; and
- An extension of the $10,000 rebate on the purchase of 2017 Leaf EVs from Freedom Nissan as long as the dealer is able to find inventory.
Utility executives, for their part, would prefer that customers re-charge at home, at night, when the grid is under less usage stress and rates are typically cheaper, which means they can make more money without increasing over-head.
“Ensuring all Vermonters can affordably participate in conservation efforts and benefit from energy efficiency innovations is incredibly important to my Administration,” said Governor Phil Scott, surrounded by utility executives at BED headquarters in Burlington. “Energy innovation should be available to all Vermonters at every income level. Today’s announcement shows that Vermont utilities are leading the way toward ensuring energy access for all.”
“For Burlington to become a net zero energy city, we must tackle the transportation sector’s significant and growing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Electric cars powered by renewable energy and driven by Burlingtonians of all backgrounds will be a big part of our city’s future. Today’s announcement is a step towards this inspiring, achievable vision.”
Neale Lunderville, General Manager of BED, who hosted the announcement, said: “Vermont’s utilities have recognized that our state is full of innovative folks who want to be part of the energy revolution. Sweetening the deals for electric vehicles has literally opened up the doors for all Vermonters to go electric. Our collective, groundbreaking incentives have led to unprecedented growth in EV sales.”
“With the transportation sector contributing nearly half of Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions, we are excited that our EV incentive programs have helped so many of our customers purchase electric vehicles and support Vermont’s clean energy goals,” said Mary Powell, President and Chief Executive Officer of GMP. “Together there is so much we can accomplish, and the continuation of these innovative programs will lead to further success in our momentum toward creating a lower cost, lower carbon future for all Vermonters.”
Those considering a fully electric vehicle have been faced with several concerns.
1) Price. These vehicles are relatively expensive compared to cars in the same class size. On the other hand, the cost to operate is the equivalent of just over $1 per gallon of gasoline.
2) "Range anxiety." You can only go so far before charging up and even a "fast" full charge will take half-an-hour.
3) Charging infrastructure. This is improving as the state now has 160 charging stations, of which 25 are fast.
However, as Weinberger (a Leaf owner himself) pointed out, the mobile app makes finding one of these pretty easy.
In May, BED launched its EV rebate program, offering a $1,200 rebate on the purchase or lease of a new, fully electric vehicle, and then in June added plug-in hybrids to its EV rebate program, offering a $600 rebate on the purchase or lease of a plug-in hybrid. Today, BED increased by $600 its rebate on fully electric vehicles (but not plug-in hybrids) to a total of $1,800 for low- to moderate-income Vermonters based on a self-certification process that can be found on the rebate form on BED’s website.
Also today, GMP launched a $600 EV rebate program for low- to moderate-income Vermonters and announced a new EV charging program, offering all customers a Level 2 in-home car charger valued at $600 when they purchase an EV. GMP’s free in-home car chargers are designed to assist customers with the adoption of EVs while ensuring that this next step in energy transformation is done in a way that is beneficial for the grid and drives down costs for all customers.
"We are certainly part of the revolution," said GMP CEO Mary Powell.
VEC, the first utility in the state to offer direct financial incentives for EVs and plug-in hybrids, announced that it will continue to offer a $250 bill credit for the purchase of new or used plug-in hybrids, and will offer greater incentives for EVs in 2018. VEC’s program also includes bill credit incentives for leased plug-in vehicles.
SED expanded its public EV charging station network in 2016 and has seen a significant bump in usage by EV drivers as a result. SED now is developing an incentive program for roll-out in late 2017 or early 2018 that will include a bill credit to SED customers who purchase an EV or plug-in hybrid.
In WEC’s rural service territory, the utility has installed and deployed five new charging stations with the assistance of grant dollars from Vermont Low Income Trust for Electricity (VLITE). WEC is making access to EVs possible to its member-owners through incentives and, more importantly, WEC is providing much needed charging station infrastructure to help increase EVs in rural Vermont.
General Motors Employee Pricing Discount with Shearer Chevrolet
BED, GMP, SED, VEC, and WEC have partnered with Shearer Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac to offer their customers a General Motors employee pricing discount on Chevrolet Bolts (all-electric) and Volts (plug-in hybrid) during the month of October. This incentive will result in purchase prices that are thousands of dollars below dealer invoice.
“Shearer Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac is proud to be teaming up with Burlington Electric, Green Mountain Power, Stowe Electric, Vermont Electric Cooperative, and Washington Electric Cooperative to offer GM employee pricing discounts on all of our new Chevy Bolts and Volts for the month of October,” stated Steve Dinco, General Manager of Shearer Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac. “This pricing is not readily available to the public and represents a tremendous value at thousands of dollars below dealer invoice. Shearer Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac is committed to the sale of hybrid and electric vehicles because we believe it is an important part of protecting our environment for future generations.”
$10,000 Nissan Leaf Rebate with Freedom Nissan
This past June, Vermont utilities partnered with Freedom Nissan to provide $10,000 rebates to any customer who purchased a 2017 Nissan Leaf EV. For example, a BED customer who purchased a 2017 Nissan Leaf would receive a $10,000 rebate from Freedom Nissan at the time of purchase, a $1,200 rebate from BED upon submitting a rebate form and proof of purchase, and a potential federal tax credit of $7,500. With a MSRP starting at approximately $30,000, BED customers have been able to purchase a new 2017 Nissan Leaf for as low as $11,300.
The Nissan Leaf promotion resulted in the largest quantity of EVs sold in the shortest period of time – between June and September – in the state of Vermont. During that time, BED, GMP, SED, VEC, and WEC customers purchased a total of 151 Nissan Leafs. Additionally, the greater Burlington area Nissan region earned the number two ranking in the country for most Leafs sold during the national promotion.
Utility leaders have worked with Freedom Nissan to keep the momentum going, and Freedom Nissan has extended the $10,000 rebate offer, originally set to end on September 30, indefinitely as long as 2017 Leafs are in inventory. Therefore, with the additional $600 rebate, a low- to moderate-income BED customer will be able to drive a Nissan Leaf for approximately $10,700. And, a low- to moderate-income GMP customer will be able to drive a Leaf for under $12,000 and receive a home charging station.
“We’ve been impressed by the environmentally-conscious customers from Vermont’s utilities who have been purchasing Nissan Leafs with us and congratulate them on leading our region to its number two in the country status,” said Robert Miller, Co-Owner of Freedom Nissan. “We are glad to do our part by extending the $10,000 rebate offer, as long as we can supply the Leafs to keep the momentum going and to help create a lower cost, lower carbon future for Vermont.”
Other utility leaders attending the announcement shared the following thoughts:
Christine Hallquist, Chief Executive Officer of Vermont Electric Cooperative, stated: “It is especially important that rural and lower income Vermonters have access to safe and affordable plug-in vehicles. As we see the market responding positively to the concerns about affordability, vehicle range, and the interest in cleaner transportation options, we will continue to do our part to bring about these sustainable solutions.”
Ellen Burt, General Manager of Stowe Electric Department, stated: “Vermonters are inherently concerned about their effect on the environment, and EVs present a great opportunity for them to reduce that impact. Utility EV programs, both currently available and coming soon, will help Vermont create a cleaner transportation future.”
Patty Richards, General Manager of Washington Electric Cooperative, stated: “This is a big deal in combating climate change, as WEC’s electric power comes from 100 percent renewable resources. Switching from gasoline to renewably sourced electricity provided by WEC is something to be proud of. Our member-owners are making a real dent in their carbon emissions when they purchase and charge their EVs from WEC’s lines.”
“Drive Electric Vermont has worked over the past five years to provide incentives and information to help consumers find the EV that will work best for them,” said David Roberts, Coordinator of Drive Electric Vermont. “Rebate programs, like the ones announced today, have created the highest market share since we started tracking EV sales. With nearly 30 EV models already available to Vermonters and more on the way, this is a great time to commit to making your next vehicle electric.”
Vermont’s utilities are offering these robust EV incentives as part of their efforts to meet the Tier III requirements of Vermont's Renewable Energy Standard (RES), which supports utility programs that help customers reduce fossil fuel use in the heating and transportation sectors. EVs reduce fossil fuel use and emissions and may save money on fuel and maintenance costs compared to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Pursuant to the RES, passed by the Vermont Legislature in 2015, electric distribution utilities are required to procure an increasing percentage of their electric sales from renewable energy. In addition, the RES includes an "energy transformation" requirement, known as Tier III, that tasks electric utilities to look for ways to reduce fossil fuel emissions (even where doing so may increase electric consumption). One way utilities plan to meet this requirement is through various EV incentive programs.
All Tier III programs are designed to accomplish these goals at the lowest present value life-cycle cost, including economic costs. When charged during non-peak times, EVs can contribute to a more efficient use of the electric grid and help keep rates stable for all customers. In fact, when charged off-peak, EVs can help put downward pressure on rates by using kilowatt hours during times when the grid has extra capacity. By adding energy use without requiring additional infrastructure costs for more power plants or poles and wires, EVs can help make the per unit cost of providing a kilowatt hour less expensive overall.
Interested Bolt and Volt buyers may contact Shearer Chevrolet at 802.658.1111 or visit the Shearer Chevrolet website to learn more. Interested Leaf buyers may contact Freedom Nissan at 802.864.7400 or visit the Freedom Nissan website to learn more. Vermont utilities customers or dealers with questions about EV eligibility or any other questions related to the various EV rebate programs are invited to contact their electric utility. The Drive Electric Vermont website provides helpful information about EVs, including their vehicle ranges, MSRPs, and incentives.