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Go green to go green: Austin Energy will double its rebate for customers buying e-bikes

Is your New Year’s resolution to be more climate-conscious? If so, you might want to consider buying an e-bike during Black Friday after Austin Energy announced this week that it would be doubling down on its rebate program for e-bikes, scooters, mopeds and motorcycles.

Transportation remains the biggest source of climate pollution in the United States, so it’s no surprise that city leaders are doing all they can to encourage residents to use electricity instead of gasoline. to power vehicles for daily transportation to work, school and for daily errands.

How does the discount work?

Pedal bikes can be taxing on anyone trying to zip through Austin, but it’s easier with electric power to keep you going. That’s why the City will soon offer a $200 rebate for those who buy an electric bike worth between $500 and $999, a $400 rebate for someone who buys one between $1,000 and $1,000. $999 or $600 for a bike of $2,000 or more.

Individuals requesting reimbursement must be an Austin Energy customer or live in a home with an Austin Energy customer. The discount only applies to new e-bikes and the doubling of the discount starts on January 1.

Karl Popham, who oversees electric vehicles and emerging technologies for Austin Energy, said residents can still purchase an e-bike during the holidays, but can refrain from applying for reimbursement until Jan. 1 or after. to take advantage of the discount. Those who want an earlier refund can, of course, still request to receive the current refund amount before the New Year.

“We are very pleased to be part of alternative mobility options in Austin by doubling down on current incentives for e-bike rebates,” Popham said. “Switching to electrics, including e-bikes, will help Austin remain a leader in real-world solutions to address today’s climate actions.”

Can companies participate?

According to Popham, Austin businesses looking to electrify their bike fleets, from pizza delivery to ride-sharing companies, can qualify for an even steeper discount. Contestants purchase five to 25 e-bikes to receive a rebate of $400 for a bike costing $500 to $999, $600 for one costing $1,000 to $1,999, and $800 for one costing $2,000 or more.

What about low income customers?

Matthew Mitchell, a spokesman for Austin Energy, said Wednesday that the city is taking the e-bike rebate plan one step further by offering even more discounts to low-income residents.

A new pilot program, starting Jan. 1 with the rest of the rebates, will offer those who participate in Austin Energy’s Customer Assistance Programs, or CAP, a $300 rebate if you buy an e-bike whose price is between $500 and $999, a $700 discount for buying a bike between $1,000 and $1,999, or $1,300 for an e-bike costing $2,000 or more.

The program is there to help people facing long-term financial difficulties or serious medical problems, by reducing electricity bills by approximately $650 per year. Residents can check the Austin Energy website to see if they qualify for the CAP program, to receive lower utility bills and more of a discount on e-bikes.

Austin Energy will invest $250,000 in e-bike rebates next year, so those who want to take advantage of the program will need to act early to make sure some of that money gets back into their pockets. Residents, to get that money back, will need to show Austin Energy a purchase receipt, and that only applies if you buy one from eligible local bike shops.

Funding for the CAP pilot program will be shared between Austin Energy and the Austin Department of Transportation, with a limited budget of $300,000.

“This is a great opportunity to reach a very important and underserved part of our population,” Mitchell said of the new pilot program. “Being able to be mobile is important in terms of education and increased opportunity. It’s an important part of being able to provide that kind of fair distribution to new emerging technologies.”

“When you ride a bike, you can interact”

Michael Natenberg pedaled home from Zavala Elementary School with his children, Parker, 4, and Sybil, 6, in tow. The daily routine on their family e-bike helps them connect with their East Austin community.

Natenberg and his wife are both primary school teachers, so the drive from home, to the children’s school, to the school where they work is about 5 miles. Natenberg, who said he’s been cycling to work solo since around 2008, said he and his family started riding electric bikes more as a unit once his wife got hers from Craigslist. in 2017 or 2018.

“It’s really great to do that with the girls,” Natenberg said. “When you ride a bike you interact with the people around you whereas when you’re in the car your windows are open. So that’s another plus.”

Is Austin’s infrastructure ready for e-bikes?

The Austin Department of Transportation, along with several public and private partners, has focused in recent years on building a 400-mile connected bike network across the city to make residents feel safe enough to trade their accelerator pedal against a bicycle pedal. Austin is halfway to its bicycle network goal, investing more than $23 million in infrastructure so far since 2016.

The network is part of both Austin’s Climate Equity Plan and its Vision Zero Plan. The Climate Equity Plan, adopted in 2021, has an overall mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2040. Achieving this goal would mean that city residents would have to reduce their use of fossil fuels to nearly zero, primarily by electrifying our transportation system. .

The Vision Zero plan, on the other hand, aims to reduce the number of people injured or killed in crashes to zero, and studies show that making people feel safe enough to trade in their vehicles for bikes will be a big step forward in achieving this.

President Joe Biden, who as recently as June announced steps to build a nationwide network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers along federal highways, has set a target date of 2030 for half of new vehicles sold in the country produce zero emissions. Biden’s effort to wean the nation off fossil fuels is seen by conservationists as a positive step toward solving the larger global problem of climate change.

Affordability and a still-developing charging infrastructure have left some Austin residents reluctant to switch to electric cars. The same concerns do not exist for e-bikes.

An e-bike, moped, motorcycle or scooter can cost less than an affordable gas-powered vehicle and — especially for those like Natenberg who live near downtown Austin where most of the bike network has been put in place. up – it can be tempting to make the switch.

“I think the city is really well set up for e-bikes,” Natenberg said. “Since we’ve been commuting with the girls, we know the area well and know which roads to take with very wide bike lanes and less traffic. We’ve never had any safety issues on our routes.”

Where can I buy my electric bike?

Austin Energy on its website has a list of two dozen bicycle, moped, scooter and motorcycle shops that participate in the rebate program.

These stores include Austin’s Cowboy Harley Davidson near Southpark Meadows, Austin TriCyclist on Barton Springs Road near Zilker Park, and Electric Avenue Bikes off North Lamar in central Austin.

The full list is available at austinenergy.com/ae/green-power/plug-in-austin/more-ways-to-go-electric/e-ride-rebate.

To obtain the rebate, Austin-area residents must apply within 60 days of purchasing the electric two- or three-wheeler. The entire purchase receipt must be visible and must reflect fully paid status.

In the app, buyers will need to upload a copy of the fully paid invoice, a copy of the specifications published by the manufacturer of the bike and a document summarizing the performance and other technical characteristics of the product. These documents help Austin Energy confirm that it is an e-bike.

All requirements are listed on the Austin Energy websiteso it is important that people take a look before making a purchase.

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