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Tucson Electric rolls out business rebates for electric-car chargers

Tucson Electric rolls out business rebates for electric-car chargers

A bank of EV charging stations at the Central Point Business Plaza, 3957 E. Speedway, in Tucson on April 16, 2020.

Business customers and local nonprofits can get incentives of up to 85% of the cost of installing electric vehicle charging stations, under a new Tucson Electric Power Co. program.

The TEP Smart EV Charging program offers rebates of $4,500 per charger plug-in, or port, for so-called Level 2 chargers installed at workplaces, including retail shops, restaurants and other businesses, limited to up to 75% of the overall project cost.

The program offers incentives of $6,000 per port for Level 2 chargers installed by apartment and condominium complexes or by nonprofit organizations, up to 85% of the project cost.

Businesses that install rapid “DC fast-charger” systems are eligible for rebates of up to $24,000 per charging port, up to 75% of the project cost.

Commercial customers located in low-income areas are eligible for higher rebates — $6,000 per port for workplaces, $9,000 per port for multifamily customers and nonprofits and $40,000 for DC fast-charger systems — though the percentage limits based on project costs remain the same.

The incentives were approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission last year, along with rebates for home customers who install EV charging equipment, and special residential rates for charging EVs during off-peak hours.

TEP announced the availability of the rebates in early April and the program is now available, with details up on the TEP website, tep.com/smart-ev-charging-program.

But the company decided to hold off on launching a full-on marketing campaign to publicize the program amid the COVID-19 pandemic, TEP spokeswoman Sherri Cadeaux said.

TEP had already heard from some commercial customers who were interested in the EV charger incentives before the pandemic hit, but many businesses are closed and TEP officials figured those that remain in operation have more important priorities, Cadeaux said.

“The (COVID-19) circumstances had been changing day by, so it was hard to see into the future,” she said. “We decided we would open the program on schedule but hold off on actively marketing it ... it just didn’t seem the time for it.”

TEP stands ready to help any customers who want to take advantage of installing the chargers and plans a major marketing campaign when the public-health crisis has eased, Cadeaux said, noting that TEP overall is fully functional with social distancing and other safety measures in place.

Regulators approved a two-year budget of $8 million for TEP’s commercial EV charging program and some other expenses. The utility can seek to recover those costs in its next general rate case, as it does with other capital projects.

There are about 3,850 electric vehicles in Pima County, Cadeaux said, citing figures from the Pima Association of Governments.

At the end of 2018 there were 15,000 electric vehicles and 8,591 “plug-in hybrid” electric vehicles — gas-electric hybrids that can also be plugged in to charge and run on battery power — registered in Arizona, according to data from IHS Markit cited by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

There are 472 public EV charging sites across Arizona, including 51 in the Tucson area, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Center.

Level 2 EV chargers, the most common type used in public charging stations, can add 12 to 25 miles of driving range per hour of charging depending on the EV model being charged, according to ChargePoint, a leader in public EV charging systems.

In contrast, DC fast chargers — such as Tesla’s proprietary Superchargers — can deliver 100 miles range per hour or more, charging some EVs to 80% in 20-30 minutes.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at dwichner@tucson.com or 573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner. On Facebook: Facebook.com/DailyStarBiz

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