Pacific Power, economic development officials and local electric bicycle dealers have joined forces to put electric bikes into the hands of low-income residents in the Corvallis area.
Pacific Power has awarded a $60,000 grant to the Corvallis/Benton County economic development office, which is reviewing applications and working with the bike shops.
Benton County residents who qualify for the program receive $1,200 toward the purchase of an electric bicycle and accessories at either Bike N Hike, Corvallis Cyclery, Corvallis Electric Bicycles and the Peak Sports Bike Shop.
“We’ve had a really positive response to this program,” said Kathryn Duvall, of the economic development office. “Many applicants have expressed that they are really excited about this opportunity and that they love that the city is doing something innovative like this. It’s a win-win for both the city and community members in Benton County as we work to reduce our greenhouse gas emission by promoting and enhancing electric and alternative mobility as an option over car travel in our region.”
So far, Duvall said, seven people have used the rebates to purchase bikes. The total would have been much higher, said Duvall and bike shop owners, if not for COVID-related supply chain issues.
Larry Desaulniers at Peak Sports said he has handled one sale and has one bike on order for a program customer.
“It’s a great program,” he said, but added “it can be hard to get bikes on the West Coast.”
The process has proven to be an easy one for Desaulniers and his staff. Program customers can choose their bike shop and all Desaulniers has to do to complete the transaction is to bill the economic development office for the rebate amount.
Electric bikes start at about $2,000 and can go as high as $16,000 for high-end all-terrain models.
Duvall said the economic development office is hoping to finance at least 50 bikes by the end of the program.
Pacific Power has given out 11 grants totaling more than $1.3 million, said electric vehicle senior product manager Kathleen Hawley. The Corvallis program is the lone program in the mid-valley. The money comes from the Oregon Clean Fuels Program.
Key goals of the program, Hawley said, were ensuring that underserved and rural communities can also experience the benefits of clean, healthy, low-cost electric transportation' that clean transportation projects are also a catalyst for growth and vitality across all areas of Oregon; and that such investments are about much more than automobiles.
Duvall said “we will be accepting new applications soon, but when that is will depend on local supply. That’s one of the reasons we are rolling the rebates out slowly — to give the current awardees time to find and purchase a bike before putting more people out there in the market.”