Earlier today, Governor Nathan Deal signed Georgia’s new $900 million transportation funding bill into law. The bill, HB 170, is little more than a “roads and bridges” funding bill, but does includes some much needed funding for maintenance projects. Unfortunately, the bill also halts Georgia’s successful tax credit for electric vehicles (EVs) and adds a steep, new user fee for drivers of electric vehicles as a means of making up the potential revenue loss for drivers who’ve switched from gasoline vehicles to EVs.
It may not be a surprise to you that Georgia had recently been getting national recognition for our EV growth. The Peach State quickly became the fastest growing state for electric vehicle sales in the country over the past few years. Between March 2013-2014, the growth of Georgia’s EV market is staggering with a 614% growth in a single year. Georgia became the #1 market for Nissan LEAF sales and #2 for all EV sales in the country. This growth was due to several factors, but most notably due to Georgia’s tax credit for zero emissions vehicles.
Most importantly though, EVs have helped Georgia drivers save money, cut air pollution and reduced oil use. EVs are saving Georgia drivers $10 million don fuel costs each year, according to analysis by Union of Concerned Scientists. Driving 100 miles in a new gasoline vehicle cost $13.57 in 2014 but driving those same 100 miles in an EV cost $3.53 or less, and as little as $0.40 if EV owners charged at the lowest nighttime rate for electricity.
The money that EV drivers do spend on fuel goes to power companies that employ Georgians, pay local taxes and have a stake in our state economy. A majority of the money drivers spend to full up conventional vehicles, in contrast, pays for crude oil, which is extracted and refined outside of Georgia. The state also stands to lose $107 million to its GDP in the next five years with the elimination of the tax credit, according to a study by Keybridge Public Policy Economics.
I became the proud owner of a Nissan LEAF last fall. Our decision to get a LEAF was both an economic and environmental one. We traded a family SUV for the Nissan LEAF. My 5-mile commute to the office and the small footprint of my errands make it a perfect fit for my family.
Now, instead of spending $200 a month on gasoline, much of which was sent out of state, I am purchasing modest amounts of electricity, and most of that money is kept circulating in our local economy. In addition to lowering our transportation costs, my family is reducing our local emissions, making our air cleaner and healthier than from gasoline emissions. It should also be noted that our LEAF is also having less of a physical impact on our roads, weighing almost 2,000 lbs less than our old SUV.
Emissions from the tailpipes of cars and trucks are blamed for 53,000 premature deaths per year. EVs are cleaner than most gasoline vehicles even when the emissions from the electricity used is considered. Cars and trucks release emissions at ground level where people live, work and play, putting people closer to the pollution source. Traffic-generated pollution causes asthma attacks in children.
One in 12 children suffers from asthma. In 2010, the cost of asthma-related hospitalizations for children amounted to over $27 million. Metro Atlanta , including Fulton, Dekalb, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale counties all received a “F” from the American Lung Association’s most recent State of the Air report ranking air quality. We should be concerned about the effects on the health of our children.
Sadly, the elimination of the tax credit for EVs will slow the adoption of EVs that are providing these important benefits. While EVs have experienced tremendous growth in Georgia, they make up less than 2% of vehicles registered in Georgia. They have NOT reached parity liked some legislators argued during the recent Legislative Session.
To get people in new technology, tax incentives like Georgia’s EV credit have proven to be highly effective. Furthermore, the new user fee is an unjustified penalty to EV drivers. The $200 fee is the highest of any similar fee in the country and higher than what the average Georgian currently pays in gas taxes.
You tell me which type of vehicle is having a smaller impact on our roads, bridges, air quality and our wallets? The new user fee is simply unacceptable.
Georgia has a problem of continually “patching” our problems and not addressing the sources. Here, we’ve done it again. Elimination of the EV tax credit and the new user fee as part of HB 170 was short-sighted and will bode negatively for our state-both economically and environmentally.