Tuesday , December 13, 2016 - 4:03 PM
As the Wasatch Front coasts into another winter inversion season, there’s still a chance to make a dent in regional air pollution through the Drive Electric Northern Utah program.
The program provides discounts on electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids through a partnership between Utah Clean Energy, Weber State University, Utah State University and local car dealerships. On top of a price cut on purchasing or leasing the cars, residents of Weber, Davis and Cache counties can receive up to $9,000 in state and federal tax credits. But those hoping to participate need to move fast — the program ends Saturday, Dec. 17.
The program’s goal is to help reduce the wintertime particulate pollution and summertime ozone pollution that largely comes from traditional combustion engine cars. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality reports that up to 57 percent of typical winter weekday emissions on the Wasatch Front come from mobile sources like cars, trucks and buses.
Electric vehicles produce virtually no localized tailpipe emissions — the type of pollution that builds up during inversion events. While they do contribute to greenhouse gas emissions by relying on Utah’s coal-heavy power plants, the U.S. Department of Energy calculates an all-electric car and plug-in hybrid car produce around 30 percent fewer carbon emissions each year when compared to a gas-powered car.
Participating dealerships include Ken Garff Nissan in Riverdale, Young Chevrolet in Layton, Cutrubus Audi in Layton, Wilson Motor Company in Logan and BMW of Murray. Some dealerships currently offer 2017 models at similar discounted rates to the 2016 models, too.
Over 100 people have signed up for Drive Electric Northern Utah so far. Around 20 electric vehicles have been sold through the program, said Clayton Johnson, Utah Clean Energy’s project coordinator. Utah Clean Energy formerly coordinated with the University of Utah on a similar program — U Drive Electric — which brought 127 electric vehicles to the Salt Lake City area.
Interested participants sign up for the program and receive a discount code by visiting utahev.org or calling 801-363-4046. Signing up for the program does not mean a participant commits to buying a vehicle. The program had originally been slated to end Dec. 3, but citing the program’s popularity, its partners announced an extension. Participants must sign a contract with a dealer by Dec. 17, 2016 to get the discount.
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