New rebate encourages Mainers to drive electric vehicles

Published: Aug. 30, 2019 at 1:58 PM EDT
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A new $2,000 rebate announced August 30th by Governor Janet Mills is aimed at encouraging Mainers to choose electric vehicles (EV) as an opportunity to save money, reduce pollution that contributes to climate change and unhealthy air, and curb Maine’s reliance on imported fossil fuels. When combined with federal incentives, Maine residents can now get up to $9,500 off the purchase of a new electric vehicle.

Maine now becomes the 14th state to offer a rebate or tax credit on the purchase of electric vehicles. States with financial incentives for EVs have experienced 15-25 percent higher sales of plug-in vehicles compared to the national average.

In a statement from Clean Energy Director Dylan Voorhees, the Natural Resources Council of Maine applauded Gov. Mills’ rebate announcement as part of her broader commitment to clean transportation and bold climate action.

“Cars and trucks are the largest source of climate change pollution in Maine and contribute to unhealthy air conditions across our state. The new rebate will help prompt more Mainers to save money and reduce pollution by choosing to drive electric. From heat pumps and solar power, to electric cars, Gov. Mills is backing up Maine’s new climate pollution targets with the sort of action we’ll need to see in order to achieve a clean energy future," says Voorhees.

"Adding incentives for clean, efficient electric cars to the portfolio of energy efficiency programs already offered by Efficiency Maine is a forward-looking step for the state. Whether you look at investments by car manufacturers or commitments from countries across the globe, it is unquestionable that our transportation future is electric. With leadership from Gov. Mills, Maine won’t stay flat-footed," notes Voorhees.

The rebate will be offered by Efficiency Maine in coordination with car dealers across the state. It is funded by a legal settlement with Volkswagen aimed at reducing harmful air pollution from gas-powered cars and trucks, dating to Gov. Mills’ time as Attorney General. Efficiency Maine has also been using funds from a separate Volkswagen settlement to invest in an expanded network of charging stations at key travel, commuting, and visitor locations across Maine.

An increasing number of Maine people are choosing to drive electric as more and more models are available, and as a network of charging stations continues to grow. Electric car owners report that the vehicles are fun to drive and can save a lot of money in avoided maintenance costs and gasoline.

In 2018, a survey of Maine electric car owners conducted by NRCM found that more than 1,300 Mainers own electric cars, and the top two reasons for purchasing an electric vehicle were to reduce air pollution (76 percent) and save money on gasoline (50 percent). More than 90 percent would recommend them to friends and family.

According to Voorhees, Maine and New England have one of the cleanest electricity mixes in the country, so driving a vehicle powered by electricity from Maine’s electric grid is an “absolute win for the environment.” Driving an electric car in Maine is the pollution equivalent of driving a gasoline-powered car that gets 107 miles per gallon, according to a calculator available from the Union of Concerned Scientists. And, says Voorhees, “as we increase renewable energy generation, our cars can get even cleaner, too.”

Learn more about electric cars in Maine at