CHEAPR – Nov Update and Prolonged Limbo

CHEAPR Remains in a Limbo Which Might End Soon

The combination of the 2019 legislation authorizing a modest, but steady funding stream, along with new program elements, and changes made by DEEP to the program in October 2019 that were more financially conservative have left the program in limbo. There has been a notice that “CHEAPR is EVolving” on its website for a year that there will be revisions but these have not been finalized.

The immediate impact of the October 2019 changes has been a dramatic underspending relative to the budget. Through November, the program awarded 589 rebates with a value of $629,500 against a budget of $3 million. The program incurs some other costs aside from consumer rebates, namely dealer incentives and admin charges paid to the program administrator, the Center for Sustainable Energy. DEEP has projected a final underspending of $2.2 million. Fortunately, these funds will roll over into 2021.

Program Parameter Changes and COVID-19

The downturn in rebates was made even more severe by the pandemic and recessionary economy, and this perfect stormCHEAPR Rebates by Quarter led to the extremely low numbers we have been seeing through all reported data for 2020. November continued the pattern with only 40 rebates awarded. This chart of rebates by quarter for 2019 and 2020 illustrates this clearly. The downturn began in Q4, 2019 (the changes were made mid-October of that year), declined further in Q1, 2020, when the economy was still strong for the first 10 weeks, and then really tanked in Q2, 2020 during the lockdown. There has been a modest recovery since then (keep in mind that Q4, 2020 includes only 2 months of data).

New CHEAPR Structure and Forthcoming Vote

Responsibility for CHEAPR transitioned from DEEP to a board that was authorized by the legislation and had a quorum by the beginning of the year. DEEP still retains a presence on the board and administratively the board lives within DEEP. The board has been divided and no fewer than 9 scenarios have been modeled and recently presented to the board. These represent different levels of incentives, where to place the MSRP cap, the newly authorized income-limited incentives for used EVs, and a supplemental incentive for new EVs, as well as a possible temporary increase in incentive levels as a stimulus.

We expect a vote to occur sometime in the next few weeks.

This is the position of the EV Club of CT and the broader CT EV Coalition:

  • Raise the MSRP cap and incentive levels to where they were before being lowered in October 2019.
  • Implement an income-limited used EV incentive.
  • Implement an income-limited supplemental incentive.

We feel the finances, especially given the rollover funds, are adequate to support this model in 2021. The EV Coalition plans to seek additional funding for the program for 2022. There is the possibility that funds may be forthcoming from the Transportation Climate Initiative beginning in 2023. Finally, we want to thank everyone who submitted public comments when they were solicited by DEEP over the summer.

At such time as the program revisions are finalized, the updates will be posted to the incentives page on this website.