Eco-friendly Texas drivers eligible for state rebate

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Drivers in Texas could cash in on a state program relaunched this year.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has reinstated its rebate program that rewards eco-friendly drivers. The program is run through the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.

Drivers whose vehicles operate on liquefied petroleum gas or compressed natural gas are eligible for $5,000 per car. Plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, and those that run on hydrogen fuel cells could earn $2,500. Those drivers are also eligible to participate in a federally-funded program that awards up to $7,500 based on household income.

“The state is that serious to incentivize to put more natural gas and electric vehicles on the road,” said Russ Keene, president of Plug-In Texas, a group that promotes electric vehicles in the state. “Some day, when there are a million electric vehicles in Texas, it will make a big dent in our air quality challenges. Same with our natural gas and propane. So, alternative fuels are the fuels of the future.”

“About half of the state’s harmful emissions come from vehicles,” Keene said. “The other half comes from heavy industry so as a measure to help keep the state in compliance with the federal clean air act managing lowering mobile source emissions is very important.”

The newly-implemented Light-Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive Program is similar to a program that state lawmakers funded in 2013. That program ran from 2014-2015, and was not renewed until 2017.

TCEQ spokesperson Marty Otero said 95 percent of the allotted slots for electric plug-in or plug-in hybrid were filled during the program’s last run, and only 10 percent of the rebates for compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas were accepted.

Despite incomplete turnout last time, Otero said the commission has “experienced a high level of anticipation and interest for this program to open.”

Keene recognizes some Texans are hesitant to transition away from gasoline.

“Well you’ve got to have both,” he explained. “You got to have all of the above fuels. No question. You gonna pull a boat? You go hunting every weekend? You need something big diesel. You need the gasoline engine. They’re not going to go away.”

He said car dealers are key promoters of programs like TCEQ’s.

“We’re going to now be able to call from the dealership, schedule an appointment with the TCEQ program to make sure the funds are available, so that way the consumer, after their purchase, within 30 days, is going to be able to go on with that appointment, be able to procure the $2,500 rebate from the state,” Capitol Chevrolet delivery specialist Monty Woodruff said. He expected the rebate program to change people’s minds about avoiding electric vehicles.

To find out if your vehicle qualifies you for a state-funded rebate, click here.

To find out if you are eligible for a federal rebate, click here.

The touch screen in an electric-powered Chevy Volt. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)
Electric vehicle charging station. (Nexstar File Photo/Wes Rapaport)

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