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The new Mass. climate law has generous electric vehicle rebates. Here's what's currently available for residents

An electric vehicle charging station installed by the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts. (Courtesy Massachusetts Department Of Environmental Protection)
An electric vehicle charging station installed by the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts. (Courtesy Massachusetts Department Of Environmental Protection)

Editor’s Note: ​​Following publication of this story, the Department of Energy Resources, which oversees the MOR-EV program, clarified that certain updates are not yet in effect, despite being required by law:

  • Rebates for used electric vehicles
  • Extra money for turning in a gas-powered car
  • Extra money for low-income residents

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy Resources did not answer questions about why these benefits are delayed and why the MOR-EV website doesn't list them under their section on what's coming in 2023. But she did say in an email that the state is in the process of hiring a new vendor, and the department hopes to begin making these rebates available in the spring of 2023.  

WBUR shared the new information with state Sen. Mike Barrett, an author of the law who was under the impression that all elements, with the exception of point-of-sale rebates, had been implemented.

“It is quite disappointing to realize that certain statutes that have been the law of the land here in Massachusetts since August of 2022 are being disregarded,” he said. 

"All of us were [under the] impression that these provisions were effective along with other provisions."

The story has been updated to reflect these delays. 

Four months after Gov. Charlie Baker signed Massachusetts' new climate law, some of the enhanced electric vehicle incentives are now available, while many others remain delayed.

While the new EV provisions in the so-called DRIVE Act could go a long way in helping the state meet its goal of getting 900,000 EVs on the road by 2030, the details of what incentives are available is tricky:

Here’s what you need to know:

Who qualifies and how?

  • You need to be a Massachusetts resident
  • You need to apply for the rebate within three months of receiving the vehicle

See the state’s MOR-EV website for details on how to apply.

What rebates are available?

  • Up to $3,500 for qualifying new EVs, that's on top of any federal incentives you may qualify for. (Prior to the new climate law, the maximum state rebate was $2,500)

What EVs qualify?

  • New fully electric vehicles that cost $55,000 or less. (See the state’s MOR-EV website for a full list of vehicles)
  • Qualifying vehicles that are leased for at least 36 months are also eligible for rebates

There is an important caveat: If you got a new or used EV before Nov. 10, 2022, you can only get the $3,500 rebate if the vehicle cost $50,000 or less.

What about plug-in hybrid vehicles?

New plug-in hybrid vehicles that costs $50,000 or less are still eligible for a $1,500 rebate, though this rebate will be phased out sometime in the Spring of 2023.

What benefits are behind schedule?

The law is clear that used EVs qualify for rebates, but the state says these will not be available until sometime in 2023. Other delayed benefits include:

  • An extra $1,500 for low-income residents
  • An extra $1,000 if you turn in a gas-powered car with your EV purchase

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy Resources says the state does not have a timeline for when these benefits will be in place, but hopes to provide an update early next year.

The roll out of the new EV benefits has created a lot of confusion, says Anna Vanderspek, the electric vehicle program director at the Green Energy Consumer's Alliance.

"I understand that the executive branch needs some time to figure out some of the more complicated pieces of the climate law," she wrote in an email, "but I wish they were able to share a timeline... If you are in the market for a car in the next three or six months, knowing when which incentives will be in play may make or break your choice to go electric."

When do I get my rebate?

Though the climate law said rebates should be available at the point of sale, the state says making this happen is easier said than done, since it requires hiring a new vendor and creating new computer software. These processes are underway, but the state says you shouldn’t expect to see point of sale rebates until sometime this spring.

In the meantime, you can still apply for rebates online. Once your application is approved, you should get a check in the mail within 90 days, though the state says there could be delays for people who bought an EV that costs between $50,000-$55,000 as the new “funding and payment mechanisms are put into place.”

Anything else?

Beginning in 2023, new federal incentives for EVs will become available. If you buy a qualifying EV, you can get both the state and federal benefits.

Related:

Miriam Wasser Twitter Senior Reporter, Climate and Environment
Miriam Wasser is a reporter with WBUR's climate and environment team.

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