While the electric vehicle tax credit under the Inflation Reduction Act has taken the spotlight, a different source of incentives has received much less attention — EV incentives offered through local electric companies. Electric company EV rebates can range from a few hundred dollars toward the installation of a home charging station to thousands of dollars back on the purchase or lease of an EV.
EV buyers can check several online sources to see what, if any, incentives their own electric company offers. The Energy Department’s Alternative Fuels Data Center enables users to search and filter by state and utility/private incentives. This database includes EV incentives offered by different types of electricity providers — investor-owned, publicly owned and electric cooperatives.
If your electric company is investor-owned, you can also download a database of EV incentives on the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) website. EEI represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies, which serve about 70 percent of U.S electricity customers.
Another option is to check your electric company website, since most have pages dedicated to any EV incentives they offer.
How do electric company EV purchase rebates work?
Electric companies that offer incentives for purchasing or leasing an EV have varying requirements and processes for applying. San Francisco Bay Area resident Colin Culligan provides one example.
Culligan recently took advantage of a rebate offered by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) when buying his first vehicle, a pre-owned Chevy Bolt. He was able to qualify for PG&E’s Pre-Owned EV rebate of $1,000 and an additional $3,000 through the Rebate Plus income-based option. This amount was in addition to a $4,000 federal tax credit his car qualified for.
“If you can get a good price on a used EV and get these rebates, I just think it’s the best deal out there right now,” says Culligan.
According to Culligan, the process to apply for his rebate was easy and involved creating an online account to submit the request and upload supporting documentation that included proof of vehicle registration, driver’s license and a vehicle purchase agreement. Since Culligan applied for the highest rebate amount, he also submitted the necessary IRS form for income verification. That was on Aug. 21, 2023. Then he waited.
After nearly two months, Culligan received notice that he was approved for the full amount, and it could take another 30 days to receive his $4,000 rebate check. He says the wait hasn’t been a problem, because he financed the vehicle and will pay down the balance when he receives his check.
EV buyers counting on a fast rebate should be aware they may not receive a check right away.
Will my electric company help with EV charging station expenses?
Many electric utilities also offer a rebate toward the purchase and installation of a residential EV Level 2 charging station. In some cases, additional rebate amounts are available for the cost of necessary “make ready” upgrades — such as hiring an electrician to install the necessary wiring and higher-voltage outlet.
Charging station rebates can range from several hundred dollars to more than $1,000, depending on the electric company. Some companies offer both charging station and EV purchase rebates, which can be combined.
For example, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, which serves six counties in Michigan, offers an $800 rebate toward the purchase of a residential Level 2 charging station. That’s in addition to a $500 rebate on the purchase of a qualified new or used EV.
Read the details of charging station rebate offers, since rebates may cover only certain brands or require Energy Star certification. Also, some electric companies require customers to be enrolled in a designated time-of-use (TOU) rate plan to qualify for a charger rebate. TOU plans incentivize residential EV owners to charge during off-peak electricity usage hours.
Why don’t all electric companies offer EV incentives?
If your electricity provider doesn’t offer EV incentives, it may not be the company’s decision alone.
“All of our members are supportive of electric transportation and would love to drive the adoption of EVs, but they can’t necessarily just do that at their will,” says Charles Satterfield, EEI senior manager of electric transportation.
Satterfield explains that investor-owned electric company proposals are subject to review and approval by a governing body, usually called the public utility commission. The “breadth or type of offerings” these electric companies can make in their state is determined by their regulatory environment.
This is evident when reviewing the Department of Energy database, since the quantity and dollar amount of electric company EV incentives varies greatly by state.
Additional tips about electric company EV incentives
Culligan stresses the importance of taking time to read the details when applying for an EV incentive, since requirements can be very precise. For example, make sure the car or charger you purchase meets specifications. Be aware of deadlines, such as how soon after purchasing an EV or charger you must submit your rebate request. Also, some offers have limited funds or time frames, so you have a better chance of receiving the rebate if you’re among the first to apply.
Satterfield adds that electric company representatives are a good resource to answer questions and provide help. “There is a whole lot of education that our members are trying to do with their customers,” he says, “and they’re just very supportive of the adoption of electric vehicles overall.”