PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — There are new incentives coming for Rhode Islanders who want to switch to electric vehicles.

Gov. Dan McKee announced the state’s new electric vehicle (EV) rebate program called “DRIVE EV” will begin on July 7.

“Rhode Island is a national leader in clean energy innovation and we’re ready to build on our momentum to maintain that lead,” McKee said. “My administration is committed to making additional investments to improve the quality of our air and water and expand access to affordable and sustainable clean energy solutions.”

DRIVE EV offers rebates of up to $2,500 for those who buy or lease battery or fuel-cell EVs, and up to $1,500 for new plug-in hybrid EVs. Rebates of up to $1,500 will be available for used EVs.

For qualified small businesses, nonprofits and public sector entities, DRIVE EV FLEET will provide rebates of up to $2,500 for new EVs and $1,500 for used EVs. Fleets can also get an additional $1,000 rebate based on the location.

How to apply for the rebate program »

“These rebates will help reduce the cost of electric vehicles for consumers, with additional incentives available for those with lower incomes, making EV ownership more affordable to a greater number of Rhode Islanders,” McKee added. “Electric vehicles also help reduce carbon and other harmful emissions in our neighborhoods. Slashing greenhouse gasses is not just the right thing to do for the environment – it is also the right thing to do for our economy.”

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The program was first announced in mid-March when gas prices were starting to soar. After topping $5 per gallon earlier this month, the cost of gasoline in Rhode Island has fallen for the second straight week to an average of $4.90.

“With the summer travel season in full swing and gas prices rising, access to affordable electric vehicles is critical for Rhode Islanders and small businesses,” Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos said. “Electric vehicle ownership will improve our quality of life by cutting carbon emissions and improving the air quality in our neighborhoods.”

According to the R.I. Department of Revenue, electric vehicle registrations have been on the rise in the state since 2017. A multi-agency report in 2021 showed there were 1,180 active electric vehicle registrations in 2017, compared to 4,540 in 2021.

The latest available data shows there were 4.869 EV registrations as of February 2022. A DOR spokesperson told 12 News this number includes battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles only.

“There are currently 5,627 electric vehicles registered in Rhode Island, and we wish to see that number grow,” Chris Kerns, with the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) said Tuesday.

The OER says transportation makes up more than a third of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

The new program will be supported by an initial $1.25 million commitment by the OER. The state’s previous EV program expired in 2017 due to a lack of funding.

Watch: Q&A portion of news conference (Story continues below.)

McKee also highlighted the FY23 budget which directs $23 million in federal funds to expand the state’s network of EV charging stations.

As part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the R.I. Department of Transportation (RIDOT) plans to use $3.38 million this year to build out the state’s EV charging infrastructure.

Drivers can apply for the rebate program online once the program formally launches. Qualified applicants will have 120 days from the date of purchase or lease to apply.

To be eligible, the purchase or lease date for a new or used EV must be on or after July 7, 2022.

McKee also plans on signing legislation Wednesday that will require the state to substantially increase its renewable energy output by 2033.