There's a new fee in the 'Rebuild Alabama Act' for electric and hybrid vehicle owners.
Sustainable energy advocates say that while they're happy to contribute to the state's infrastructure -- the amount of the new cost is unfair. As Alabama gas vehicle owners start to see an increase in their annual spending at the pump, electric vehicle owners will be taxed directly for road use for the first time.
"It is somewhat offensive to me for a government agency to tell me that I owe money on a gas tax because my entire belief structure is not to participate in a gas economy," said Daniel Whitt, a Tesla owner.
Whitt isn't pleased with the brand new $200 annual registration fee on EVs, $100 for hybrids, that will start next year. It will then increase by $3 every four years starting in 2023.
"My gas is my electricity, and my electricity bill has increased substantially," explained Whitt. "I do feel like I am being double taxed because I pay more in electricity bills per month than the average homeowner of the same sized house."
"We're not fans of flat, fixed fees in any scenario whether vehicle taxes or utility bills. The EV tax should have been indexed to construction costs, just like the gasoline taxes," said Daniel Tait, COO of Energy Alabama, about the $3 increase.
Much of the new $200 fee will go to projects like road and bridge construction and repairs.
"I understand that I use the roads and the infrastructure as an automobile owner, not a gas automobile owner," said Whitt. "And so I'm willing to have a conversation about it."
The new fee will be the full amount when 2020 starts, while the $0.10 a gallon gas increase will be phased out over the next 3 years. Tait sees that as unfair towards EV and hybrid owners.
But $50 of the EV fee (and $25 of the hybrid fee) will go to EV infrastructure, such as electric chargers. Tait says they can support such a fund, but EV drivers should have a voice in how it's spent.
Tait thinks a fee is fair, but that it should be significantly lower in the range of $100 - $125, with the $50 for EV infrastructure included.
The $50 ($25 for hybrids) that goes to the fund disappears and the registration fee drops to $150 once EVs make up 4% of all cars in the state. But that's a jump from barely over a thousand now to just over two hundred thousand, likely several years away.
"It is our hope that by the time EVs reach 4% of total vehicles on the road, the fund will not be nearly as needed as it is today," said Tait.
Whitt, who thinks this extra tax is unfair and whose fiancé just got her own electric vehicle, says plenty of cities and towns have taken real action in EV infrastructure and so should the entire state.
"It's important right now that the government is somewhat active in accelerating sustainable transportation and electric cars," Whitt said.
Tait sees EVs growing rapidly, with manufacturers taking the sustainable automobiles seriously, but agrees, the state along with utilities like Alabama Power and TVA must be working to encourage that growth.