PORTLAND, Oregon — The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced it’s temporarily suspending the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program beginning May 1.
Funding for the program comes from the state's vehicle privilege tax. This year, $15.5 million was available for rebates. And based on electric vehicle (EV) sales so far this year, the Oregon DEQ expects that money to be gone within a few months. Only purchases or leases of qualifying EVs made on or before April 30 will be eligible for 2023 rebate dollars.
“We're a victim of our own success,” said Rachel Sakata, senior air quality planner at Oregon DEQ. “We can't give out rebates if we don't have any more money to give out.”
Since the program launched in 2018, the rebate program has issued more than $71 million in rebates. The standard rebate ranges from $750 for qualifying motorcycles, and up to $2,500 for qualifying vehicles. A rebate of $5,000 is also available for low and moderate income households.
“It's really disappointing to see this rebate suspended just when the electric vehicle market is really starting to take off,” said Jeff Allen, executive director of Forth, a nonprofit advocate for transportation electrification.
Allen pointed to rules the state recently adopted that would ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035. The changes also target the year 2025, when 25% of all new cars on the market in Oregon would need to be electric.
“To set those legally binding requirements, and then make it harder, more confusing and more expensive for people who are trying to do their part to contribute to them....it just really sends a mixed message,” said Allen.
Forth is working on legislation to add more funding to the rebate program. House Bill 2613 is seeking $30 million from the General Fund to sustain the rebate program for the next couple of years.
“We are optimistic still (that) that legislation can get passed, that we can get this program funded and that this suspension will be very brief," said Allen.
The suspension will not impact the one-time federal tax credit of up to $7,500 for qualifying new EV and up to $4,000 for qualified used EVs. The Oregon DEQ expects 2024 rebate funding will be available again starting March of 2024 or sooner, if they receive more funding.