One common theme we increasingly see across about everywhere green vehicles such as hybrids and electric cars are in play are rebates and incentives designed to get more consumers and businesses interested in this developing market segment. The New England region of the United States, for example, has initiatives such as Connecticut offering funding support for placement of public electric vehicle charging stations in private businesses and municipalities. Now Maine is also getting into the act, with utility Central Maine Power (CMP) offering incentives to organizations that wish to try out plug-in electric vehicles.

CMP said it will offer up to $15,000 to select entities which lease or purchase vehicles that are eligible. Those who get one of the grants may also apply a portion of what they receive towards the purchase and installation of a Level 2 or Level 3 charging station. These stations typically charge electric vehicles at a much faster rate than plugging a car into a wall socket.

2013 Toyota Prius PHEV
Image courtesy of Toyota

Qualifications for those wanting to apply include being within CMP’s service territory, as well as aiming to acquire vehicles which have at least part time electric propulsion such as plug-in hybrids. Such vehicles must be commercially available, noted the utility, and customized cars, home made vehicles and prototypes are not eligible.

What’s also interesting to note is that

special consideration will be given to applicants that have plans to evaluate the use of electric vehicles as an option to store off-peak energy for use during peak periods and/or for frequency or voltage support.

This line item reflects a growing trend in utilities trying to understand and evaluate how an increasing number of battery-equipped vehicles might impact local power grids. Southern California Edison recently shared some rather interesting details on how this is playing out in its service area which hosts 12,000+ such rides. It found, among other things, that of 400 upgrades it has done to local grid circuits since 2010 in areas where EVs are present, only 1 percent of this work was actually required due to additional power demands. The rest fell into regular maintenance.

“Our program is designed to encourage the use of hybrid and electric cars in Maine,” said Adam Cutter, who is managing the utility’s grant program, in a statement. “It’s also a chance to promote the storage of renewable and other energy generated off-peak to replace fuels with greater climate impacts.”

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