Electric vehicles account for a tiny fraction of the cars on the road today, but electric utility AES Indiana wants to boost that number by offering a raft of rebates and other incentives to customers who drive them.
The utility, known until last month as Indianapolis Power & Light Co., filed a petition Tuesday with state regulators that would set up a wide-ranging package of rebates and incentives for people who buy electricity for rechargeable vehicles.
The utility also wants permission to pass along the cost of those incentives to all of its 500,000 customers in the state in the form of higher rates in coming years, whether or not they drive an electric vehicle.
The move comes as the nation is slow to warm up to electric vehicles, which accounted for less than 2% of the nation’s 146 million new, light-duty vehicle sales between 2011 and 2019. Whether people want them or not, automakers are rolling out more electric models in response to tougher pollution regulations and mandates to fight climate change.
Indiana sold 2,036 electric vehicles in 2018, accounting for 0.82% of all vehicles sold, according to EV Adoption, an industry blog.
AES Indiana is proposing that customers of electric vehicles who plug in during off-peak hours (generally between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.) get a sharply lower rate for electricity. That rate would be 6 cents per kilowatt hours, a sizable discount to the standard electricity rate of 11 cents.
The utility also wants to offer rebates of up to $250 for an electric charger, which typically costs as much as $800, plus up to another $1,000 to install. It also wants to offer annual incentives of up to $150 for people who participate.
The utility says it would cost about $5.4 million to set up the program, which would cover vendor fees, customer incentives, and other costs. It wants to pass along those costs to all customers in the form of higher rates in coming years.
It’s anyone’s guess if AES Indiana will get a favorable reception from state regulators. Last year, state regulators rejected a similar proposal by Duke Energy Indiana.
Regulators said Duke Energy’s pitch was “essentially a customer-funded proposal to further a utility/company policy” that did not reflect at a similar scale Indiana’s policies on energy and electric vehicle development.
The Indiana Legislature has not adopted any statewide policy for encouraging the development of EV projects. A bill drafted this year by Rep. Ethan Manning, R-Denver, would have authorized rebates and incentives for electric vehicle pilot programs, but the legislation, House Bill 1385, died last month in committee without a vote.
AES Indiana said it hopes to boost EV usage in the Hoosier state in conjunction with Motor EV LLC, an electric car subscription service that is a subsidiary of AES Corp., the parent company of AES Indiana.
Motor EV offers monthly subscriptions on electric vehicles that range in price from $649 for a Chevrolet Bolt to $1,399 for a Tesla Model X.