Thinking About Buying an EV? Here’s All You Need to Know About Programs and Tax Breaks.

Panorama of EVs

In the City of Santa Clara, we love electric vehicles (EVs). But we know that for first time buyers, navigating the available EV tax breaks and programs can be a head scratcher. Here are a few resources to tell you everything you need to know:

Federal: A nationwide EV tax credit is available for up to $7,500 if you purchase an EV. The tax credit amount varies based on the type of EV and its battery size. Federal EV credits will expire separately for each manufacturer after it sells 200,000 qualified vehicles, and some makes and models will also decrease in credit value over time before hitting this cap. The Department of Energy maintains a list so you can easily see what credits are available for the vehicle you choose to purchase.

California: Through the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, California residents are eligible to save up to $7,000 on an EV purchase. Unlike other states, California takes income into consideration with its tax credit, so low‑income residents are eligible for an increased rebate. Simply submit an application within 18 months of purchasing or leasing your EV to qualify.

Santa Clara: Once you have finalized the purchase of your EV, you can look to us for rebates on Level 2 EV chargers. We offer rebates of up to $750 per charger to help residents fund their EV charging equipment purchase. Rebates are available for residential homes, multifamily housing, schools and nonprofits. Visit our EV Charging Station Rebate page to learn more about the rebate and submit an application.

If you are thinking about buying or leasing an EV, we encourage you to purchase as soon as you can in order to receive the maximum tax credits and rebates possible. Visit our EV page to learn more about EVs, read our EV FAQs and view a map of EV charging stations throughout the city.

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A Faster, Electric Commute

At Silicon Valley Power, we support projects that help the environment, grow the local economy and make our residents’ lives easier. Our most recent effort is the Caltrain Electrification Project, in partnership with Caltrain. This project will introduce new, electric trains to replace some of the current fossil fuel‑consuming trains that run between the San Francisco Fourth and King Street Station and the San Jose Tamien Station.

Not only will the new electric trains be more environmentally friendly, but they will also be faster, more reliable and quieter. Caltrain predicts that electric trains will lead to a 21 percent increase in ridership by 2040, with a corresponding reduction in the number of cars on the road, leading to a whopping 619,000 vehicle miles of reduced traffic congestion and 176,000 metric tons of reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Electrification will undoubtedly be a giant leap forward for a commuter train system that started in 1863 and has undergone several evolutions before becoming the Caltrain that we know today in the 1980s.

According to Caltrain, the project is expected to generate $2.5 million in regional economic benefits, and the work is expected to be completed in 2022. As part of this project, our crews will be working near Santa Clara Caltrain tracks on the west side of the City through May 2019. Residents and businesses will be notified in advance of planned outages in their neighborhoods. Our current expectation is that we may need to access a small number of properties during these planned outages to complete the work. If this is the case, affected residents will receive notice ahead of time.

If you have questions about the Caltrain Electrification Project, visit calmod.org/resources, email Caltrain at calmod@caltrain.com or call them at 650-399-9659.

We’ve Got the Largest Public EV Charging Center in CA…for Now!

Panorama of EVsWhy would anyone want to set a record, only to turn around and say they can’t wait until that record is broken?

Well, that’s what we’re saying here ever since we opened the largest public electric vehicle charging center in the state. On April 20, 2016 the Santa Clara Electric Vehicle Charging Center came on line at Santa Clara’s Tasman Parking Garage located near Levi’s Stadium, the Santa Clara Convention Center and the Great America theme park. With 49 charging spots, it’ll serve EV drivers in that destination-rich environment. And a California Energy Commission grant paid for just about all of it.

But what’s coming up is even more exciting! Our charging center surpassed the previous record holder, nine chargers at a supermarket on Mowry Ave. in Fremont, which set that record in December 2015. We won’t be surprised if the growing number of charging locations includes one with 50 or more chargers in the very near future. Private companies are already on the bandwagon – reports say the new Apple campus in Cupertino will feature numerous EV chargers for employees.

A leading industry publication, Smart Grid News, echoed remarks made by Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor when it called the Santa Clara Center a “climate change milestone” with its one Fast DC charger and 48 Level 2 chargers. Plugincars.com says a Fast DC charger can “fill up” an EV in as little as 30 minutes while the Level 2 power pushers take more time.

The cost of driving an EV in Santa Clara can be around $0.04 a mile, based on a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimate. Since EV battery capacities and range vary considerably, the DOE has a Vehicle Cost Calculator to better estimate your overall expenses.

We collaborated with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Joint Venture Silicon Valley, ChargePoint and MJR Electric to make the charging center a reality. It may be the largest in the region for now, but we will be cheering for more and even larger EV charging centers for the growing number of EV drivers.

Electric Vehicles Get a Charge Out of the Tasman Parking Garage

We recently found out that 5 percent of people living 20151222_081905in Santa Clara own an electric vehicle, and a whopping 31 percent say they will consider an EV sometime in the next 3 years. Growth in EVs has been steady, and we know that the need is rising for charging stations necessary to keep them moving. We’ve stepped up support for EVs by installing 48 Level 2 ChargePoint charging spaces at the Tasman parking garage serving the Mission College/Tasman area, Santa Clara Convention Center, and Levi’s Stadium.

The new stations recently went live on the first two levels of the garage, and are in addition to the EV chargers available at the Santa Clara Central Library and at Santa Clara City Hall. The charging speeds of chargers differ:

  • Level 1, 110 volts, is slow
  • Level 2, 220 volts, is faster
  • Level 3, 480 volts, is fastest

One Level 3 charger is also available at the Tasman parking structure.

We partnered with the California Energy Commission, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Joint Venture Silicon Valley to make the project possible. Although most of the project was funded by grants, a fee is charged at the EV charging stations to cover the balance of the installation costs and power. Navigant Research estimates that there will be 140,000 EVs on California roads by the end of the year, so we’ll be keeping an eye on the growing local demand for charging stations.

Along with current EV carmakers like Nissan, Ford, Chevrolet and Kia, companies like Audi, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz are planning to join Tesla in the luxury EV market in the next few years, according to the California Air Resources Board.