ELECTRIC VEHICLE REBATE PROGRAM SHOWING EARLY SUCCESS, OFFICIALS SAY

 Connecticut DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee, right, talks with Congressman Joe Courtney, center, State Senator Paul Formica, and local automotive dealer representatives after announcing DEEP's CHEAPR (Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automotive Purchase Rebate) program, creating financial incentives for purchasing electric vehicles, during a press conference at Carriage House Mercedes in New London Tuesday, June 30, 2015. (Tim Cook/The Day)

Connecticut DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee, right, talks with Congressman Joe Courtney, center, State Senator Paul Formica, and local automotive dealer representatives after announcing DEEP's CHEAPR (Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automotive Purchase Rebate) program, creating financial incentives for purchasing electric vehicles, during a press conference at Carriage House Mercedes in New London Tuesday, June 30, 2015. (Tim Cook/The Day)

JUDY BENSON

New London — In the seven weeks since it began, nearly 70 Connecticut residents have taken advantage of the state program that offers rebates of up to $3,000 for the purchase or lease of an electric car.

“The $3,000 rebate is getting people into the showrooms,” said state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee during an event Tuesday at Carriage House Mercedes Benz to promote the new program. “These electric vehicles are essential to meeting the challenge of climate change and reducing air pollution.”

In the showroom for the event were five electric-powered vehicles: a 2014 B-Class Mercedes; a 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf; a 2015 Ford Fusion Energi; a 2015 Nissan Leaf; and a 2014 BMW 13.

Stickers on each of the vehicles listed estimated fuel cost savings over five years, ranging from $5,750 for the Fusion to $8,250 for the Leaf and BMW 13, compared to costs of fuel for similar gasoline-powered vehicles.

Sticker prices on the five vehicles ranged from $32,000 to $53,725.

“Everything you see is for sale,” Jeff Aiosa, owner of the dealership, told the small group gathered for the event.

His 25-year-old dealership, which moved into the Colman Street building four years ago, is an appropriate setting for an event promoting initiatives that reduce fossil fuel emissions, he said, since the building is powered by 40 solar panels and uses waste oil for winter heating.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the incentive program, called the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Purchase Rebate program, or CHEAPR, is an “extraordinary initiative.”

He noted that, when consumers pair the rebate with federal tax incentives for electric vehicle purchases, they can cut up to $10,000 off the price of a car.

“They can not only save money, but also save the planet,” he said.

Putting more electric vehicles on the road, he added, will not only reduce carbon emissions contributing to climate change, it will also enhance national security by increasing the nation’s energy independence, and help boost the economy.

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said the program is a great example of how the public and private sectors can work together. The program, announced on May 19, has the support of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association.

It offers $3,000 rebates for vehicles with a battery capacity greater than 18 kilowatts or any fuel cell electric vehicle, including the Leaf, e-Golf, Ford Focus Electric, BMW i3 and Mercedes Benz B class.

A $1,500 rebate is available for vehicles with a battery capacity between 7 and 18 kilowatts, including the Chevrolet Volt, the Ford C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energy.

The Toyota Prius Plug-In and other vehicles with battery capacity of less than 7 kilowatts are eligible for $750 rebates.

Thus far, $131,250 in rebates have been paid to 67 car buyers. The rebates will be available until $1 million is distributed, unless additional funding becomes available to extend it, according to a news release from DEEP.

Connecticut DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee, center, is joined by State Senators Cathy Osten, left, and Paul Formica, right, as well as New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio as they talk before the announcement of DEEP's CHEAPR (Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automotive Purchase Rebate) program, creating financial incentives for purchasing electric vehicles, as part of a press conference at Carriage House Mercedes in New London Tuesday, June 30, 2015. (Tim Cook/The Day)

State senators Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, and Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, and Mayor Daryl Justin Finizo also praised the new program.

Klee noted that in addition to the incentives, there are also now 160 electric vehicle charging stations around the state, including one at the Mercedes dealership and another he used that morning at the Water Street Parking Garage downtown.

“There is no reason now not to get one,” he said.

Getting more electric vehicles on the road will enable Connecticut to reach its goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050, he said, noting that emissions from transportation contributions about 40 percent of the total.

j.benson@theday.com

source: http://www.theday.com/article/20150630/NWS01/150639965

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