Georgia environmentalists protest new fees in EV bill
A long-anticipated overhaul of Georgia's electric vehicle regulations is close to becoming law and environmentalists like…most of it.
Driving the news: After a last-minute change, advocates are protesting a new charging fee meant to equate to the state's gas tax: about 3.47 cents per kilowatt hour.
- But that amounts to the highest such fee in the country, Sierra Club legislative chair Mark Woodall told lawmakers last week.
Why it matters: Georgia already has the second-highest EV registration fee at more than $200, Woodall pointed out. "We're concerned," he said. "We think we ought to be incentivizing EVs."
The big picture: Gov. Brian Kemp has said he hopes Georgia will become an EV manufacturing capital, but advocates warn the taxes will punish EV owners.
The other side: State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), the bill's sponsor, told Axios it won't disproportionately punish EV drivers because the tax only applies to public charging stations — not chargers at home.
- He said they're "primarily" targeting out-of-state travelers who currently pay no fees.
- "We're just trying to make sure everybody that's using the public roads are paying their fair share."
Yes, but: Jennette Gayer, executive director of Environment Georgia counters that not all Georgia drivers have at-home chargers and "some Georgia EV owners like to go on road trips."
- Plus, the new fee requirement will force some to replace charging equipment, which could in the short term shrink the charger network.
Of note: Don Francis, president of the EV Club of the South, told Axios he's worried thousands of chargers would be impacted and many wouldn't be replaced. "It's going to freeze the charging market," he told Axios.
What's next: If passed, the fee wouldn't go into effect until 2025.
- Gooch points out it could be changed or repealed before then and calls it an "interim" step until the Georgia Department of Transportation wraps up its EV pilot program.
- He told a committee Monday this is "not the last time" they will see the fee structure proposed.
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