The wait for electric vehicle rebates is over for lower income Oregonians, now that the state is once again processing applications for $2,500 subsidies on the purchase of new or used electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s rebate processing of applications from low- to middle-income EV buyers was brought back online after it was suspended in 2018. That’s the result of DEQ’s hiring of a third-party contractor to manage and securely process applicants’ sensitive financial information.

“Rebates will now go out more quickly. We hope these rebates will encourage more Oregonians than ever to purchase zero-emission vehicles and partner with us to improve air quality while saving money,” DEQ’s Air Quality Division administrator Ali Mirzakhalili said.

Shortly after the “Charge Ahead” rebate program was launched in 2018, it faced challenges, including a lawsuit over its funding source. Groups representing drivers, car dealers and the trucking industry challenged the DEQ’s dealer tax for what the state described as the “privilege of engaging in the business of selling taxable motor vehicles at retail in this state.”

The Oregon Supreme Court determined in August that year that the privilege tax was lawful and the DEQ initiated the implementation of the program at the end of 2018. But it took until this year to line up its third-party application processor. 

The Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program has two types of subsidies on the purchase or lease of electric or plug-in vehicles. The first is the Standard rebate, which was never interrupted. It gives drivers $1,500 to $2,500 back for the purchase or lease of a new battery electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid — regardless of their income levels. 

The second program is the Charge Ahead rebate. This program gives qualified lower income households a $2,500 rebate when they purchase or lease a new or used battery electric vehicle, if they can demonstrate that their income is low enough to qualify.

Both rebates are available to Oregon residents who have bought EV or hybrid plug-in vehicles on or after Sept. 28, 2019.

“It’s a great opportunity for people of all economic levels to take advantage of a rebate to purchase or lease an electric vehicle and it also gives folks the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon,” DEQ’s Rachel Sakata said.

So far, Oregon has issued more than $9 million in standard rebates since December 2018 and more than 26,000 electric vehicles have been registered in the state since last August.

The Center for Sustainable Energy will begin processing applications in the order they were received beginning with those submitted in 2018.