Mar 21, 2023 - Politics

Georgia environmentalists protest new fees in EV bill

Illustration of a hand holding an EV charger up to a car.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

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  • Gooch points out it could be changed or repealed before then and calls it an "interim" step until the Georgia Department of Transportation wraps up its EV pilot program.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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