Thanks to the U.S. Federal income tax credit of $7,500 towards the cost of a brand-new electric car and the state of California’s $2,500 electric car rebate program, it’s already pretty affordable to buy a new electric car in the Golden State. Live in the right city , work for the right company or have an eye for a bargain, and you may find yourself getting even more discounts off the cost of a new plug-in car.
Soon, certain Californians could have a new place to look for a discount on a brand-new car: their local utility company.
As SFGate reports, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the local utility company to millions of customers in central and northern California, has just applied to the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to offer one-off rebates for any customer with a plug-in car.
The amount of that rebate has yet to be determined, although we assume it will be decided as part of the negotiation process the utility company is currently undergoing with the aforementioned governmental agency. If approved, the rebates could be available as early as the second half of 2016.
With its headquarters in San Francisco, one of America’s biggest electric vehicle markets, PG&E’s interest in offering plug-in vehicle rebates to customers might be viewed as a smart move from a utility company keen to promote the benefits of using electricity as a low-carbon transportation fuel.
The reason why it is able to do so is far more interesting.
Under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, all oil companies who operate within the state must take steps to reduce the carbon intensity of the fuels they sell. This can take the form of blending ever-higher quantities of biofuel into their gasoline and diesel products, or by selling alternative fuels like compressed natural gas or hydrogen.
And when they do so, they’re awarded credits proportionate to the amount of green fuels produced and sold. Because electricity and natural gas are classed as a low-carbon fuel, utility companies like PG&E earns plenty of credits from the state of California, far more than it actually needs to comply with the Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
Like Tesla Motors — which sells its excess ZEV credits for a profit to automakers who don’t produce enough to satisfy California’s ZEV mandate for cars — PG&E sells its excess credits to oil companies that are struggling to meet the tough Low Carbon Fuel Standard requirements.
Unlike Tesla Motors however, which can keep profits from the sales of ZEV mandates to keep its bottom line healthy, PG&E is a regulated utility company. As such, it can’t keep hold of its proceeds and must pass them back to its customers in one form or another.
Thus, the idea of the rebates for plug-in car owners.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen PG&E engage in pro-electric car activities in recent months. Back in February, it applied to California’s public utility regulators for permission to install 25,000 electric car charging stations across central and northern California, funded in part by a rate rise equivalent to around 70 cents per month.
But we’ve got to admit that this latest plan — essentially rewarding electric vehicle owners for driving an electric vehicle from the proceeds of selling emissions credits to the oil industry — is particularly apropo.
We’ll bring you more news of the proposed PG&E rebate when we have it, but from what we can tell if approved, it will apply to anyone with a plug-in car — even those who already own an electric car.
Do you live in California? Do you welcome the idea of more rebates? Or do you think PG&E should use its oil-based proceeds to fund something else?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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