Sonoma Clean Power launches “Bike Electric” program

By Heather Bailey, Staff Writer, Sonoma West Times & News, March 10, 2021

Provides customers with incentives for purchase of eBikes

According to a statement released March 8, Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) is launching a new program focused on connecting income-qualified customers in need of clean, personal transportation with incentives for electric bicycles (eBikes).

Transportation is the leading source of community-wide emissions in SCP’s service territory, and supporting the regional transition from gas-powered vehicles to vehicles fueled by clean electricity is one of SCP’s priorities.

However, tackling emissions from transportation also requires reducing the number of cars on the road.

According to SCP, the eBike industry has found new recognition in recent years, though various models of eBikes can be traced back as far as the 1890s. With states and countries setting ambitious goals to combat greenhouse gas emissions, eBikes have caught the eye of local governments and public agencies as a solution for short-distance commuters in their communities.

When compared to traditional bikes, eBikes allow riders to travel longer distances in a shorter amount of time. The extra range and assisted pedaling can help replace car trips, ease commutes to work and solve the “last mile” issue some people face when using public transit.

eBikes are pedal bicycles with a rechargeable electric battery and engine which offer three types of travel — pedal only, like any bicycle, pedal assist (also known as electric assist) in which each pedal push is augmented by the electric motor (and on most eBikes you can modify how much assistance you are receiving) and finally electric only, in which the bike operates entirely in the motor without human power, similar to a moped or electric scooter.

eBike motors come in a wide variety of power ratings, from 200W to 1,000W or more, however the legal limit in the US is 750W, although different states can set their own limits.

A higher rating means that the bike will be able to pull more weight with greater ease, but at the expense of using more battery capacity while doing so. In other words, a 750W motor will drain the battery much quicker than a 250W one, but it will also be more powerful.

Windsor town council member and SMART board member Debora Fudge has long been a proponent of eBikes being used in conjunction with SMART train travel as a solution to the “last mile.”

SMART is piloting a bike share program along its entire line, using eBikes to help people move to and from the train.

For those without a vehicle, eBikes may also present a lower-cost alternative to car ownership.

Starting March 8, SCP customers who qualify for CARE/FERA (state programs that provide discounted electric rates administered by PG&E), CalFresh/SNAP, LIHEAP, Head Start and other income-based assistance programs can apply to receive $1,000 off the purchase of an eBike.

In the coming weeks, customers whose applications are approved will be mailed a voucher which can be redeemed at a number of local bike retailers that are partnering with SCP. With the voucher, customers will get $1,000 off the eBike’s total cost at the time of purchase.

“Electric bikes are a great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and with SCP’s new program, we hope more people have the opportunity to discover their benefits,” said Colin Thomas, the owner of Pedego Electric Bikes Santa Rosa.

“We welcome the chance to show everyone what a delight owning an eBike can be. For a lot of people, eBikes do have the potential to be a viable and cost-effective option for commuting to work, especially given the expansive cycling infrastructure in our area,” he added.

On SCP’s website, customers can view the list of participating bike retailers, which also includes details on which stores offer payment plan options. Additionally, customers can learn more about the free trainings on eBike safety and best practices that are being offered in partnership with the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

Through the “Bike Electric” program, SCP hopes to stimulate the local eBike market, further support the adoption of clean modes of transportation, and make eBikes accessible to residents who could benefit most from owning one.

To learn more or to apply, visit sonomacleanpower.org/programs/bike-electric.

This article was produced by Sonoma West Times & News, the hometown newspaper of Sebastopol and west county since 1889. See more news at sonomawest.com