One Texas Lawmaker Wants Electric Vehicle Owners to Pay

Representative Drew Darby wants fuel-efficient vehicles, which naturally incur lower gas taxes, to be charged increased registration fees.
Thu January 24, 2013 12:15 am
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While many states encourage the use of electric cars by offering monetary incentives, Texas seems to be considering just the opposite. Lawmakers, concerned about sufficient funding for state infrastructure, are proposing a registration fee hike for owners of electric vehicles. The reasoning is that these vehicles, by virtue of using less fuel, incur far smaller gas taxes. Rep. Drew Darby (R- San Angelo) said he wants to ensure that “electric vehicles that tear up our roads pay their fair share.”

Electric vehicle advocates acknowledge that fuel-efficient car owners should contribute fairly, but not while the eco-friendly trend is just gaining steam, The Texas Tribune reported. Plug-In Texas, an electric vehicle coalition, also argued that the estimated 2,000 electric car owners in the state already pay taxes for the electricity they use when charging their cars at home. TMDP, meantime, wonders just how much increased registration fees on 2,000 cars could really earn for the state.

D Magazine suggests the Texas legislature consider an alternative: revising the largely outdated gas tax. Texans currently pay 38.4 cents in state and federal taxes per gallon of gas, but this number does not take into account twenty years worth of inflation and increased fuel efficiency. U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue recently called for a higher gas tax, too, pointing out that it’s not really a tax, but a “user fee” for the roads.

This is not the first time in recent memory that Texas has fretted over the ascendancy of electric cars. Some feared that increased popularity of the vehicles would be too much for the state’s fragile electric grid to handle. The CEO of Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Tripp Doggett, addressed that worry, saying that widespread disturbances will not be a “significant issue in the near term.” However, his concession that habitual car-charging “during peak electric use hours” in the future could be problematic will surely help fuel Texas’s uneasiness for years to come.

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