BRATTLEBORO — The electric bicycle as a serious mode of transportation is getting a big boost in Vermont and so are Brattleboro's bike shops.
At participating Vermont bike shops, Green Mountain Power customers can get a new $200 rebate off an electric bike, electric cargo bike or an installed electric-assist conversion kit. The company also is offering a new $400 rebate when its customers buy a cold climate heat pump.
Josh Castonguay, a GMP vice president who leads innovation and power supply, said the rebates provide "great savings to help customers make the switch."
"Together with customers we are creating a cleaner, more cost-effective and resilient energy future," he said. "GMP has committed to being 100 percent clean carbon free energy by 2025 and 100 percent renewable by 2030. These incentives create value for all of our customers by using the energy grid more effectively, reducing carbon and cost for everyone we serve."
GMP has teamed up with VBike, the state's e-bike advocacy organization based in Brattleboro, to help its customers with VBike's free bike consultation program, which is funded by VTrans through Go Vermont, Vermont's alternative transportation agency. VBike's consultation program provides free advice on bike design and technology for the specific needs of Vermont residents. Local bike shop owners say it is the only program of its kind in the United States.
Electric assist technology enables a bike rider to go further, climb hills with ease, feel safer and more comfortable on a bike, and with electric cargo bikes, be able to carry the children and groceries. The goal of the rebate program is to make it easier for local residents to purchase an e-bike and potentially produce a significant increase in the number of local riders. Electric bike advocates say this is the perfect replacement for a gas power car since it has been estimated that an electric bike is at least 40 times more energy efficient than the average gas-powered car and nearly 10 times more efficient than an electric car.
Brattleboro's bike shops stand to benefit from the GMP rebate program as they have already taken a leadership role in bringing the e-bike revolution to the region. Brattleboro Bicycle Shop has brought in an extensive line of electric bikes and recently starting selling the Gazelle line of electric bikes from Holland. The shop also will convert almost any bike into an e-bike by installing a e-assist conversion kit. Burrow's Specialized Sports has focused on cargo bikes and converting these highly utilitarian bike with e-assist conversion kits. Burrow's also offers a lower end conversion kit for regular bikes.
Over the past four years VBike has been providing support to Vermonter's through its free consultations and also helping bike shops with various aspects of the emergence of e-bike technology and design. The non-profit organization also helped to initiate Vermont's first e-bike rebate program with the Burlington Electric Department in 2018 and back in 2015 helped establish Vermont's first low-interest loan program for electric bikes through the Vermont State Employees Credit Union.
VBike also assisted GMP with the new rebate program to understand the different aspects of the electric bike market and how that intersects with Vermont's bike shops.