(TNS) -- The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says it will put an additional $1 million into a program to provide rebates for businesses and consumers who buy electric vehicles.
DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee announced the additional funding Friday at a Wallingford press conference to mark the launch of the first electric vehicle charging station that is available around the clock. The charging station is located on the north side of the Wallingford Stop & Shop.
Klee said the additional funding for the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Rebate Program will likely extend it through the end of 2016, given the current rate that electric vehicles are being purchased in Connecticut. A total of $800,000 was budgeted for the program when it was announced last May and DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said that as of Oct. 20, the state had issued 230 rebates for electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and 146 for hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt.
“People are excited about the technology and we want to make sure that people really get on board with it,” Klee said.
The additional money will come from a fund created as part of a deal Connecticut officials negotiated with Northeast Utilities and NStar that cleared the way for the merger of the two utilities in April 2012, he said. The merged companies are now known as .
Klee also announced on Friday that DEEP is creating a competitive funding opportunity for municipalities and state agencies to purchase electric vehicles as well as install charging stations at municipal and state agency facilities. The $1.5 million that will be available for that competitive funding opportunity will come from proceeds the state has received from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
RGGI is what is commonly known as a cap and trade program, a term used to describe one of the mechanisms available for reducing air pollution in a nation or region while still allowing regulated companies some flexibility to meet established standards.
Under such a system, companies are issued credits based on how large they are and what industries they are in. If a company’s air pollution emission comes in below its allotted level under the credits, it has extra credits it may trade with other companies.
Connecticut is one of the nine Northeast states that sell nearly all of their emission allowances via auctions and invest the proceeds in energy efficiency, renewable energy and other public benefit programs.
Reimbursements of $15,000 per vehicle and $10,000 per charger for municipalities meeting the program guidance specifications will be available under the program. The reimbursement can be for a maximum of six electric vehicles and chargers per grant recipient, according to DEEP officials.
The closing date for communities to be considered for the competitive reimbursement program is Dec. 8.
State Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, said continued installation of charging stations around Connecticut, as well as rebate programs for electric vehicles, is critical because it helps consumers embrace the technology.
“These are real psychological barriers for people,” said Mushinsky, whose district is entirely in Wallingford.
Ben Martin, chairman of the town’s Energy Conservation Commission, said the two charging stations at Stop & Shop are 240-kilovolt units, which take between three to four hours to fully recharge an electric vehicle.
“Most people with electric vehicles will probably come here with about a 25 percent charge left,” Martin said. “If they spend an hour shopping, they will get to about a 50 percent charge.”
Using the charging station at the Stop & Shop will not cost an electric vehicle owner anything, said Scott Germain, who is the store’s manager. The supermarket is picking up the cost of the electricity used at the charging station, he said.
The vehicle charging stations were made possible by EVConnecticut, which is a partnership between DEEP and the state Department of Transportation, Klee said.
©2015 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.