Oregonians looking to buy a new electric vehicle could qualify for up to $7,500 in federal rebates after passage of a climate bill, on top of the $7,500 in rebates the state already offers for some buyers.
The landmark Inflation Reduction Act recently signed into law is being celebrated as one of the biggest climate investments in U.S. history. It’s slated to invest $369 billion in clean energy and climate action. The bill allows households with low-to-moderate income to get up to $7,500 in federal tax credits for a new electric vehicle or $4,000 for a used one.
“One of the great things about this bill is that it does give everyone through both new vehicle purchases and through credits towards used vehicles the opportunity to participate in this process,” Chair of the Council on the Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory said.
Mallory and her team advise President Joe Biden on environmental and natural resource policy, with a focus on environmental justice and climate change.
There are some caveats to qualify for the full amount of the federal tax credits, including household income, where the electric car was made and a price cap. But overall, Mallory said the tax credits will allow more people with lower incomes a chance to buy an electric vehicle.
Oregonians can qualify for state rebates as well. The state already has two electric vehicle rebates. The Standard Rebate Program offers up to $2,500 back to anyone who purchases a new battery electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid under $50,000. The Charge Ahead Rebate program applies to households that make $51,000 to $251,000 a year depending on the household size. Those who qualify can get up to $5,000 in rebates for purchasing or leasing a new or used battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Combined, Oregonians who meet the qualifications could get up to an additional $7,500 back through the state.
“Oregon has one of the best comprehensive electric vehicle rebates out there,” Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Senior Air Quality Advisor Rachel Sakata said.
The program is designed to encourage residents to purchase or lease electric vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide. A state report in 2020 found the transportation sector accounted for 40% of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest single source in the state.
Sakata said having both the federal and state programs available for Oregonians is a game-changer. But people interested in buying a new or used electric vehicle will have to look at what they qualify for to receive rebates. Sakata said for Oregon, the state has a tool to help people determine how much they can get back and which car dealers can accept the voucher on the spot.
Also, Oregonians are not limited to one car per household. Anyone who qualifies can purchase as many electric vehicles per household as they want.
“We do have a requirement though that you must maintain ownership of the electric vehicle for at least two years, and you must maintain that registration in Oregon,” Sakata said. “We do want you to buy it, we do want you to use it here.”
Oregonians who buy electric vehicles need to apply for the rebates within six months of purchase. If they sell their electric vehicle prior to the two-year requirement, they have to return some of the rebate money.
$55.5 million awarded in Oregon so far
To date, $55.5 million has been awarded through the Oregon Clean Vehicle Program with $14 million awarded this year. The program is contributing to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s goal of having at least 250,000 registered electric vehicles in the state by 2025. There are now more than 50,000.
Sakata said the federal tax credit could help the state reach its goal before the 2025 as there will be a range of models and prices as more car manufacturers begin to dip into the electric vehicle market
“You’re starting to see the electric pickup trucks coming online, you’re starting to see more SUVs that are very popular being electric,” she said. “There’s going to be momentum for the manufacturers to make lower priced EVs so then people can afford to purchase them who may not normally.”
Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Transportation is pledging to invest $100 million to build out a charging infrastructure along the state’s major roadways with a focus on disadvantaged communities and rural communities over the next five years.
Matt Noble, an ODOT spokesman, said the agency plans to invest $65 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to build out fast-charging stations along Interstates 5, 84, 82, and U.S. 26, 101, 20 and 97. The agency plans to spend $36 million to fill the gaps beyond these major roadways with a focus on disadvantaged communities and rural communities.
“So, we’re leaving the federal money for the major roads and major corridors because they have a really solid federal plan for that,” he said. “But for us, we’re going to focus our state funding on our community charging as well.”