EUGENE, Ore -- The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has decided to suspend the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate program, which provided a rebate to those who purchased electric vehicles.
The program will begin its suspension on May 1, 2023. The reason for the suspension is because DEQ has gone through their funds for this year. According to DEQ projections, the program will be oversubscribed in late spring of 2023. Program rules require DEQ to suspend rebates once funds are gone.
Officials said the program was too successful, with rebate applications coming in at a high rate. The funding for rebates came primarily from Oregon's own Vehicle Privilege Tax. The tax covered not only the rebates, but also the program's administration and community engagement.
Rachel Sakata works for the Department of Environmental Quality. She holds the position of Senior Air Quality Planner.
"Quite frankly it's been a huge success," she said. "I mean really since the beginning of the program we've issued more than $71 million in rebates. And so really that means we're seeing more electric vehicles on the road."
The next allotment of funds isn't due until March of 2024. Phil Barnhart, a longtime electric car advocate, would prefer the program not go into suspension. He is President of the Emerald Valley Electric Association. He described the issue of the rebates as a "problem you want to have."
According to statistics by Atlas EV Hub, a data firm that tracks EV sales across the nation, Oregon was second in the country in 2021, behind California, for the number of new electric vehicles.
"The rebate is an important part of getting people into an electric car," Barnhart said. "If you can get a $2,500 rebate or a $7,500 rebate that reduces the price of the car for you and makes it more likely for you to buy one."
Officials from DEQ still believe that even without the rebates electric cars will still be able to attract people. For people that applied for rebates prior to May 1, they are still eligible to receive them. However, for vehicles purchased or leased after April 30, no state rebates will be given. The federal tax credit will still be available throughout the suspension.
People could qualify for a credit of up to $7,500. The tax credit is available to both individuals and businesses. However, there are some income requirements people have to meet in order to be eligible. Married couples must not exceed $300,000 of yearly income. The heads of households must not make more than $225,000, and individuals must not make more than $150,000.
A vehicle must also qualify in order for someone to obtain the federal tax credit. One of the most important factors is that the final assembly of a vehicle must be made in North America.
According to Phil Barnhart, there is a bill in the Oregon legislature that is being worked on which could prevent a suspension, or at the very least make the suspension shorter.
It's called House Bill 2613 and it would add $30 million to the fund to fill out the rest of 2023 and into the beginning of 2024. However, the bill still has to pass through the legislature. In the meantime, Barnhart advises people to buy an electric car now, before the rebates end in May.