With Funds Shrinking, DEQ Pausing Electric Vehicle Purchase Rebates

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By Alex Baumhardt

A cash rebate program rewarding purchasers of electric vehicles is running out of money and will temporarily be suspended after April 30, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality announced Wednesday.

The department advised residents to apply for a rebate by then. If the program runs out of money before April 30, people who apply for a rebate will be put on a waiting list and will be paid next year, the department said. The department will have more money for rebates in 2024. For cars they range from $2,500 to $5,000.

The department created a website tracking the program’s funds to help Oregonians in their vehicle purchase decisions. Any vehicles bought after April 30 will not be eligible for a state rebate but owners can still apply for the federal rebate of up to $7,500, depending on their income.

The program is funded by the state’s Vehicle Privilege Tax of 0.005% which has been added to the price of vehicles since 2018. The tax has paid for all costs, including staff and the rebates, for the program. Its budget for the year is about $17.5 million, with $15.5 million for rebates, according to the environmental quality department. But this year that has not been enough to cover the volume of electric vehicles sold in the state.

Since its inception, the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program has issued more than $68 million in rebates to nearly 25,000 electric vehicle buyers. This is the first time the program’s been suspended.

As of November, there were more than 60,000 zero-emissions vehicles registered in Oregon, according to the state’s Department of Energy.

Oregon has one of the most generous electric vehicle rebate programs in the country, according to Leah Feldon, the director of the environmental quality department.

“It has been extremely successful, and 2023 rebate applications are coming in at our highest rate yet,” she said in a statement.

This story first appeared in the Oregon Capital Chronicle.