British Columbia Brings Back Electric-Car Purchase Rebates


British Columbia   [image: Wikimedia Commons]

British Columbia [image: Wikimedia Commons]

Yesterday, the Province of British Columbia announced the return of its Clean Energy Vehicle (CEV) incentive program, effective April 1.

The program's return was the culmination of months of behind-the-scenes efforts by electric-vehicle advocates throughout the province.

The so-called Phase 2 of the program largely restores incentives from Phase 1, which was allowed to expire in the spring of 2014 after the depletion of the initial C$14.6 million (US$12 million) allocation for vehicles and supporting infrastructure.

DON'T MISS: When Electric Car Incentives Expire: A Case Study In Canada (Sep 2014)

Funding came from the Innovative Clean Energy Fund – a levy on hydrocarbons that forms part of the province's carbon tax.

The new program should be sufficient to double the 1,700 plug-ins currently on provincial roads.

Smart Electric Drive, University of British Columbia campus, Vancouver [photo: Matthew Klippenstein]

Smart Electric Drive, University of British Columbia campus, Vancouver [photo: Matthew Klippenstein]

It should also boost electric vehicle sales, which have risen only modestly since the first phase expired, even as sales skyrocketed in Ontario and Quebec--where incentives remain.

This author's analysis showed that during the original incentive program, B.C. represented about one-sixth the combined number of Leaf and Volt sales in Ontario and Quebec. That ratio dropped to 1 in 12 after incentives expired.

Phase 2 details

The new program will be overseen by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, led by Bill Bennett.

He is unrelated to former B.C. Premier William Bennett, who began the build-out of the massive hydroelectric dams which now allow the province's electric car drivers to drive around on emission-free electricity.

British Columbia reinstates its incentives for plug-in electric car purchase, February 2015

British Columbia reinstates its incentives for plug-in electric car purchase, February 2015

Plug-in electric vehicles are eligible for point-of-purchase rebates of up to C$5,000 (US $4,000) while hydrogen fuel cell vehicles qualify for C$6,000 (US $4,800).

Better yet, the rebates can be combined with the government's SCRAP-IT program (think “Cash For Clunkers”), which offers drivers up to C$3,250 for pre-2000 motor vehicles.

ALSO SEE: Can Condos Coexist With Electric Cars? Volt Owner To Be Cut Off (Jan 2012)

While the inclusion of fuel-cell vehicles may exasperate some electric vehicle advocates, Vancouver is a hub for fuel cell research and development. Also, a full 30 percent of Metro Vancouver households live in multi-unit housing (condos / apartments / townhouses).

Wiring a shared garage for electric-car charging stations is not simply a technical issue, but a potentially complex negotiation among landlords, tenants, and condominium boards.

Electric-car charging information from BC Hydro, West Coast Green Highway, British Columbia, Canada

Electric-car charging information from BC Hydro, West Coast Green Highway, British Columbia, Canada

British Columbia has also allocated C$1 million in incentives to spur companies to adopt clean energy vehicles for corporate fleets, though it hasn't followed the Quebec government or Obama White House in detailing plans to start electrifying the government fleet.

An additional C$1.6 million has been budgeted for charging and hydrogen stations, and – perhaps most promisingly – half a million dollars has been reserved for research, training, and public outreach.

Fruitful advocacy

Among the many groups who worked to convince the government to restore the incentives, the efforts of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association stand out. (Your contributor is a member, but takes no credit for the excellent work done.)

Led by government liaison Don Chandler, VEVA's professionalism and persistence earned it an invitation to present to government staff in April 2014. A letter-writing campaign from club members and related advocacy groups followed, expressing support for restoring incentives.

Later in the year, the club worked with Electric Mobility Canada so the national organization could communicate its support for the program's return as well.

Finally, when the government opened the public consultation phase for its 2015 budget, VEVA drafted a 14-page white paper that outlined 11 measures the government could take, classified by impact, financial cost, and responsible government ministry.

Now, after these tireless efforts, British Columbia's Clean Energy Vehicle incentives are back.

NOTE: The author, who works on fuel cells, has been unable to secure permission to charge his plug-in hybrid car in his building’s shared garage.

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