Georgia Legislature Revamps Electric Vehicle Charging – WABE

This coverage is made possible through a partnership with WABE and Grist, a non-profit, independent media organization dedicated to reporting on climate solutions and a just future.

A bill that would overhaul EV charging in Georgia is going to Gov. Brian Kemp for signature. It was passed by the state parliament on Monday.

The legislation changes the way EV drivers pay for charging at public charging stations. Drivers currently pay based on the time they spend on the charger. Under Senate Bill 146, they would instead pay by the amount of electricity they use — much like how gas pumps charge by the gallon.

“This is a fairer way to do that and make sure we don’t overpay for electricity costs,” Anne Blair of the Electrification Coalition told WABE last month.

The switch is also required for chargers funded by the state bipartisan Infrastructure Act.

The legislation also allows convenience stores to set up chargers for electric vehicles – something the industry has been urging as automakers increasingly switch to manufacturing electric vehicles instead of internal combustion engines.

It also includes a more controversial provision: an excise duty on EV charging, similar to the excise duty on gasoline. This tax is funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation and is considered essential to funding the maintenance of the state’s roads.

But EV owners in Georgia are already paying a $216 annual fee specifically intended to compensate for lost gas tax revenue.

“Further taxing of electric vehicle drivers is a penalty,” Blair said.

The tax also poses a challenge for companies that currently offer free EV charging. They would have to start metering their fees, and in order to offer the free fee, they would have to pay the tax themselves.

During hearings, supporters of the bill said both fees are necessary because the excise duty is only levied at public charging stations and not at home charging. This means that drivers of electric vehicles that mainly charge at home would not pay proportionally to their road use.

“We believe that anyone using public roads should pay their fair share to get onto that road,” Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch said in a hearing last week.

GDOT is involved in a pilot project involving charging a fee based on an electric vehicle’s mileage, rather than charging a flat annual fee. Gooch said it’s an option lawmakers might consider in the future.

The legislator has lowered the tax to 2.84 cents per kilowatt hour. Proponents pushed for the change, arguing that the originally proposed rate of 3.47 cents would have been the highest in the country.

If Kemp signs the bill, the EV charging excise tax will come into effect in 2025.

Environmental groups see the EV Charging Act as a win mainly because they hope that the expansion and standardization of charging will encourage more people to drive EVs instead of internal combustion engine vehicles, which contribute to climate change.

Other environmental laws could not prevail during the legislative period.

A proposal to ban mining near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge garnered more than 90 supporters but received only a subcommittee hearing without a vote. Her sponsor, Republican Darlene Taylor, said she hopes it moves forward next year. Taylor’s decision to investigate the Okefenokee mining problem has been withdrawn.

A bill on solar energy on roofs also failed. This would have required installers to be licensed by the Public Service Commission – something the rooftop solar industry opposed because it views the PSC as hostile to rooftop solar systems. The commission has backed large solar farms but recently failed to expand a scheme that could make rooftop solar more affordable.

Draft legislation to regulate land improvement and establish a state environmental justice commission also stalled.