In a recent statement, Sonoma Clean Power (SCP), the public electricity provider for Sonoma and Mendocino counties, announced the launch of the third and final electric vehicle incentive program.

The Drive EV program will run from now through Nov. 16, and offers incentives up to $4,000 exclusively for SCP customers. Additional manufacturer and dealer discounts, rebates and tax credits may also be available (see sidebar).

“The biggest change we’ve done this year compared to last year is increase our incentive for low-income customers,” said Sonoma Clean Power program manager Nelson Lomeli. “Those enrolled can now get up to $4,000 towards a new or used vehicle. Last year we limited it to $3,500. We’re hoping this additional amount will have a significant impact in customers affording and purchasing EVs.”

The program will be promoted in English and Spanish via direct mail, print, digital and outdoor advertising, radio, TV, social media and other mediums. SCP customers can get started by applying at www.DriveEV.org.

“We are extremely proud of the transformative nature of the Drive EV program, which has already helped 800 families get discounted EVs and provided 1,900 home chargers over the past two years,” said SCP CEO, Geof Syphers in a statement. “Bulk discounts on electric vehicles are helping us address climate change by making these high-performance cars more affordable."

SCP extended its popular free EV home charging station program through June 2019, but after the completion of the Drive EV program, the agency will focus on growing the public charging network in Sonoma and Mendocino counties to further help the region transition away from gasoline-powered vehicles.

“Replacing gas vehicles with electric cars, and charging them on clean, renewable energy is the single largest step an individual can take in reducing their carbon footprint,” said Syphers.

“The first question a lot of people ask is about charging,” said Lomeli. “While most are able to charge using a standard outlet in their house, we wanted to make getting a charging station an easy task as well.”

Lomeli says the program is structured so that a customer pays about half the cost of the charger upfront, usually between $350 and $450, but once the charger is installed, connected to the internet, and has been used for one charge, SCP sends them a check to reimburse those costs, making the chargers “essentially free.”

There is an additional incentive for enabling the chargers’ Smart Rate feature, which allows SCP to turn off or turn down the chargers during peak use and turn them back on or up during low use.

“If a customer chooses, they can enroll in this program, called Grid Savvy,” Lomeli said. “With that we can more closely align with what is happening on the open market and make sure we are being the most efficient in our resources. In exchange, we give them a $5 bill credit if they allow us to control their charger.”

“What’s really important to know is that for customers who want an EV but think can’t afford it, a lot of resources are available for EV adoption,” finished Lomeli.

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