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EV rebates, incentives driving sales in Omaha area

July 22, 2019 | Jodi Baker | electric vehicles, products & services
Signage explaining OPPD's EV rebate program sit alongside a Chevy Bolt at a local Omaha dealership.

Matt Lentz has always been fascinated by technology. But it was a ride in a friend’s Tesla a few months ago that convinced him to consider buying an electric vehicle (EV) for himself.

“I was just astonished by the feel of the vehicle, how smooth it was,” he said, “and the power it had. Really fast.”

From a more practical standpoint, “I appreciated the fact that you never have to purchase gasoline, and could go home and charge it in your garage for a very cheap rate.”

Lentz researched EVs further, and learned of available federal tax credits and rebates from OPPD. “That’s a big reason I made the leap,” he said.

The 29-year-old Associate Director of Owner Operator Program for Werner Enterprises invested in a Tesla Model 3 in May.

“I’m in love with it,” he said.

Matt Lentz with his Tesla sedan near a charging station in Omaha.
Matt Lentz with his Tesla sedan near a charging station in Omaha.

Available rebates

After a successful EV rebate pilot last year, through a grant partnership with the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Nebraska Community Energy Alliance (NCEA), OPPD began offering a new cycle of grant funded rebates April 10, 2019. They include:

  • $2,500 rebate after the purchase of a new EV, as well as the purchase, installation and registration of a ChargePoint Home® charging station: 28 rebates available
  • $500 rebate for a ChargePoint Home™ charging station: 49 rebates available
  • $100 rebate after installation of the required electrical work in order to support a level 2 home charging station: 86 rebates available

“OPPD benefits from providing rebates since customers agree through their charging station activation to let us track and monitor their charging habits,” said Tricia McKnight, product specialist for OPPD. “That helps us look at potential impacts to our distribution system and manage those impacts in grid planning.”

The rebates and tax incentives seemed to spur growth in the local EV market.

“When OPPD’s EV rebate pilot began in 2018, only 600 EVs were registered in the state of Nebraska. More than half of them were in OPPD’s 13-county service territory,” said McKnight.

Within a year’s time, OPPD customers had claimed more than 60 EV car rebates and 118 EV charger rebates.

“We expect this new round of rebates will go quickly, as well,” McKnight said.

Dealership rebates

Additional manufacturer rebates are available from the following dealerships:

  • Nissan: $3,500 incentive for 2019 Nissan Leaf® with 40 kWh battery & $2,500 incentive for 2019 Nissan Leaf® with 62 kWh battery
  • Audi: $1,000 off manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of a new 2019 Audi e-tron purchased after Jan. 1, 2019
  • GM: $5,500 off 2019 Chevy Bolt with additional dealership rebates throughout the metro area

Various local dealerships have also partnered with OPPD to promote the rebates with some offering additional dealership rebates. Dealership partners include Huber Chevrolet, Woodhouse Nissan (Bellevue), Sid Dillon (Blair), Nissan of Omaha, H&H Chevrolet and Audi of Omaha.

Federal tax credits can total up to $7,500, depending on the manufacturer and other factors.

Long-term value

Lentz received no dealership incentives, but he received a $3,750 federal tax credit, as well as a combined $2,500 in rebates from OPPD. That knocked a substantial amount off his purchase price.

“I have since applied for a rebate for the wiring of my home charger, and if approved, that will add another $100 to my total rebates.”

Lentz said he invested in the dual motor performance version of the Tesla Model 3, with faster acceleration and a longer charging range of at least 300 miles. He believes the added cost will be worthwhile over time. Lentz typically charges for less than an hour and a half each night, enough to last him 45 miles, as he typically does not drive very far.

“That’s about $1 per day in energy costs.”

Lentz said a full charge costs him between $5 and $6, covering 300 miles. He estimates  he’ll save close to $12,000 in gasoline within nine years of ownership.

But Lentz expects savings to go well beyond the cost of fuel. His research shows EVs are also more reliable than vehicles with a combustion engine. He also likes that his Tesla Model 3 has a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

“It’s also good for the environment. And, it’s just fun to drive.”

Public charging stations

An NCEA grant will fund six new public charging stations throughout OPPD’s service territory. Exact locations are still being determined.

Availability of public charging stations has only proven to be an issue for Lentz once so far, when he and his girlfriend were traveling to Brookings, South Dakota for a wedding. “I got to Sioux Falls (to charge), and I was down to 15 miles.”

He said he doesn’t take many road trips, and if he does, he can map out the locations of charging stations ahead of time.

“I really don’t see any advantage, besides range, that combustion vehicles have over electric-powered vehicles,” he said.

He’s glad to be an early adopter of EV technology, which continues to grow in popularity.

“I’m excited for the future. I think it’s just a matter of time before EVs take over the current vehicle market.”

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About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker writes stories and shoots videos for The Wire. Jodi was a television news reporter before she came to work for OPPD as a media specialist in 2013. Jodi earned her degree in broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She's worked for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to sunny San Diego. She’s married with two bright and energetic children (a boy and a girl) and an allergy-ridden little Cairn Terrier. She and her husband enjoy catching up on some grown-up DVR time once the kiddos are asleep.

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