New York driving is about to get greener. While we were sorting through new electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids at the New York Auto Show, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers were mulling over various proposals for the upcoming state budget in Albany, including a consumer incentive on EV purchases. One week later, the budget passed with a rebate of up to $2,000 when Empire State residents buy a pure EV, plug-in hybrid (PHEV), or fuel cell vehicle.
According to the Environmental Advocates of New York, a group that followed the budget negotiations closely, $2,000 will be the maximum rebate for buyers of plug-in vehicles as well as hydrogen fuel cell models that may appear in the Northeast in the coming years. Federal governments will also see incentives of up to $5,000 when purchasing an electric vehicle. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will be responsible for implementation.
The Sierra Club, an advocacy group that was vocal in support of the EV rebate for New York, said the details about who is eligible for the rebate and how NYSERDA will administer remain unspecified but the budget dictates that the rebate will be available within the next 12 months. That means New York residents will have access to a maximum $9,500 in incentives ($7,500 from the federal tax credit) by 2017 at the very latest.
Along with nonprofit groups such as Sierra Club, Conservation Law Foundation, and Union of Concerned Scientists, the proposal had the support of Con Edison of New York, Volkswagen, and General Motors, three companies that stand to benefit from a switch to plug-in vehicles.
While more cars charging up on New York’s grid would be a boon for a utility provider like Con Edison, Volkswagen and GM hope to spur adoption of electric cars they currently have on sale in the Northeast. What the Sierra Club deemed an “unlikely” alliance was actually a group of big businesses whose interests align perfectly with groups that altruistically prioritize air quality and environmental stewardship in general.
For the Cuomo administration, the rebate will help get to the 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (80% by 2050) the governor committed to in October 2015. Transportation currently accounts for over one third of GHG emissions in New York. As research by Union of Concerned Scientists has shown, upstate New York drivers get as much as 135 miles per gallon in economy when operating an electric car, while NYC residents can access a grid offering 79 miles per gallon for EV drivers.
Purchase incentives remain one of the key drivers for adoption, and this lack has been one of the sticking points for advocates hoping to see more electric vehicles in the Northeast. New Yorkers will soon have 2,000 more reasons to choose green when shopping for a new car, and it’s a great day for anyone concerned about air quality in the Empire State. In fact, we can’t think of anyone who loses from the passage of the EV rebate, other than the Koch Brothers.
Connect with Eric on Twitter @EricSchaalNY