Drive Oregon Working to Secure Clean Vehicle Rebate for Oregonians

By: Jeanette Shaw, Director of Government Relations

February 6, 2017 (Portland, OR) – When I joined Drive Oregon as its first Director of Government Relations in December 2016, I knew that one of my first priorities would be to secure passage of an electric vehicle rebate during Oregon’s 2017 Legislative Assembly.

The Assembly convened February 1, and we are off to a strong start, with several electric vehicle related bills on the agenda for the first hearing of the House Committee on Energy and the Environment this Wednesday, February 8. 

This hearing is particularly timely, given a recent report from the Oregon Global Warming Commission that emphasizes the importance of cleaning up the state’s transportation sector. The Commission’s Chair, Angus Duncan, was quoted as saying, “If the legislature is going to do anything on carbon this session, make sure you do something on transportation. That’s the biggest deal. Emissions have been going up instead of down, not even going sideways anymore.”

There is plenty of evidence that “cash on the hood” incentives are the best way to drive increased electric vehicle sales. They’ve worked in California, Washington, and Norway. And we’ve also seen the opposite, when electric vehicle sales dropped 80% after Georgia eliminated its state incentive.  Sponsored by Representative Helm, HB 2704 will establish rebates of up to $2,500 for passenger cars and up to $250,000 for electric transit buses. We will be testifying in support of this bill along with key industry partners and supporters at Wednesday’s hearing.

While this bill could stand alone, we also expect it to be a lively topic as the Legislature considers a broader transportation funding package. We recently convened a group of technology, environmental, and transportation professionals to explore how advanced and increasingly disruptive mobility technologies, from electrification to ride-sharing to autonomous vehicles, can be harnessed to truly “modernize the transportation system” as envisioned by the Governor’s Transportation Vision Panel. We agree with the Vision Panel that “Oregon should be a national testbed for the development and deployment of innovative transportation,” and we will continue to seek opportunities to make that vision a reality.

The rebate bill is the single most important electric vehicle legislation being considered this session, but Drive Oregon will be tracking a number of other proposals that could help advance the electric and advanced mobility industry. For example, at the February 8 Committee hearing we will also be testifying in support of two bills that guarantee the “right to charge” for commercial tenants, such as those renting office space and residential tenants in apartment buildings. These bills, HB 2510 and HB 2511, are sponsored by Representative Barnhart, a long time champion of electric vehicles. They build on his previous successful legislation that guaranteed homeowner associations could not unreasonably prevent the right to charge for Oregonians who live in condominiums.

Please join Drive Oregon’s work to modernize the transportation system and pledge your support for HB 2704 by adding your name here!

For more information about our legislative and policy work, please contact me at any time.