Georgia lawmakers overwhelmingly passed legislation on Monday that would change the way EV owners pay to charge their cars and trucks to a familiar system.
Senate Bill 146, which provides guidelines for regulating and taxing electric vehicle charging stations in a manner similar to retail gas stations, passed the Senate and House of Representatives with near-unanimous support.
The second part of the bill relates to the permits, inspections and regulations for charging stations to be enforced by the Department of Agriculture.
If Gov. Brian Kemp approves the plan, the bill would allow convenience stores and other businesses to charge their consumers for electricity per kilowatt-hour, rather than as much time as it takes electric vehicle drivers to charge their batteries.
However, support Georgia’s pursuit of it Become the leader in electric vehicles say the legislation will collect additional taxes to fund road and bridge maintenance, in addition to the $217 annual registration fee that EV owners pay.
Several lawmakers protested the measure, saying it will impose an unreasonable tax on drivers who use free public charging stations. And they say companies offering this service as a benefit to their employees would also incur unfair costs. Under the legislation, EV charging in businesses and public places is taxed at a rate equal to the price of gasoline per gallon.
Atlanta Democratic Sen. Jason Esteves said he appreciates the hard work the legislature has done understand to the electric vehicle industry. However, he stressed the importance of not making Georgia one of the most expensive places in the country to own and drive EVs.
When the pending legislation goes into effect, Georgia will become the fifth state to introduce a kilowatt-hour fee.
“The intention to target drivers from other states who are driving into Georgia makes perfect sense, but would also impact residents who live here and help make Georgia the electric capital of the state,” Esteves said.
A month-long joint legislative study committee led to this year’s Senate electric vehicle legislation and a similar House bill, as the state prepares to receive a $135 million federal grant to install charging stations at highway exits in rural communities. The study panel last year heard recommendations from utility executives, state regulators, grocery store owners and electric vehicle drivers on how best to regulate a market that currently accounts for just 1% of vehicles on the road but could grow to 10% by 2030.
Republican supporters of the two proposals pointed out that by the time the new law goes into effect in 2025, the state should be in a better position to determine whether the annual EV license fee is the best way to maintain roads and bridges.
As part of a nationwide pilot program, the state is evaluating the feasibility of replacing the fee with a system based on miles driven.
The new rules also ensure the safety of equipment and the reliability that people are appropriately stressed, said Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch.
“Over time and rising inflation, the dollar value of $1 will continue to decline,” said Gooch, who supported the Senate bill. “So if the gas tax goes up to 35 cents a gallon, that rate would go up for electric cars as well.
“We want to make sure that the person driving a gas-powered car pays the same rate as the person driving an electric car,” Gooch said.
RECEIVE THE MORNING HEADLINES IN YOUR INBOX