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Oregon Supreme Court approves on-the-spot payments of up to $5,000 to encourage the sale of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Electrified vehicle sales in Oregon should increase with the approval of funding for rebates up to $5,000.Owners of new and used electrified vehicles in Oregon now qualify for on-the-spot rebates of up to $5,000.

The Oregon Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the financing source for the rebates on Thursday, clearing the way for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to begin funding them as soon as possible.

The rebates, to be funded by a .5 percent tax on new car sales, had originally been approved by the 2017 Oregon Legislature. But the tax was challenged at the Supreme Court by AAA and Oregon Truckers Associations, which argued the constitution limted the use of its revenue to highway projects.

While the challenge was proceeding, DEQ, which the Legislature charged with administering the rebates, adopted the rules for the program. Few buyers applied for them, however, in large part because the program was not well publicized before the ruling.

The tax was intended to raise over $12 million a year, enough for over 4,000 annual rebates. But, because of the uncertainty, the state has only received around 550 applications so far, a mere fraction of what it had hoped to fund. They are expected to increase now.

The rebates are intended to encourage the use of all-electric (EV) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) to help meet state goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Key program elements include:

• Standard rebates of $1,500 or $2,500 towards the purchase or lease of a new plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicle. The rebate amount depends upon the battery capacity.

• Charge Ahead rebates of $2,500 for low- and moderate-income households for the purchase or lease of any new or used battery electric vehicle.

• Eligible vehicles must have a base manufacturer's suggested retail price of MSRP of less than $50,000.

Several vehicles qualify for the rebates, including the Audi A3 e-tron, the BMW i3 EV, Chevy Bolt and Volt, the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV, the Honda Clarity EV and PHEV, the Hyundai Ioniq PHEV, the Kia Niro and Optima PHEV, the Nissan Leaf EV, the Smart Fortwo EV, and the Volkswagen e Golf.

The DEQ updated its website following the ruling. You can find more information there at tinyurl.com/ya29kxgq.

To read a previous Portland Tribune story on the issue, go to tinyurl.com/yd4lypb8.

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