The Texas legislature passed a bill Thursday that would require the drivers of electric vehicles to pay a $200 annual fee.
Senate Bill 505 passed with a unanimous vote, 145-0. If it is approved by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and becomes law, the fee would be implemented starting Sept. 1, 2023.
The fee is meant to make up for revenue on the gas tax, which EV drivers do not have to pay. EV owners would also pay a one-time $400 fee when first registering their vehicle. EV’s as defined by the bill are vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less that are solely powered by electricity.
Data from the state’s comptroller and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that the gains from the fee would immediately outstrip the costs.
While the Texas DMV fund would incur a one-time cost of $214,440 to update automated systems, the fee would put $79.5 million into the Texas state highway fund starting in fiscal year 2024.
“With the growing use of EVs, the revenue from the fuel tax is decreasing, which diminishes our ability to fund road improvements for all drivers. EVs use the same roads as petroleum-powered vehicles, thus they should be subject to an equalization of road use consumption amount,” State Sen. Robert Nichols, District 3 Republican and author of the bill, wrote in a statement of intent.
Electric vehicle advocates are displeased with the new charge.
“Consumers should not be punished for choosing a cleaner, greener car that saves them money on fuel and maintenance,” Consumer Reports policy analyst Dylan Jaff said in a statement.
Consumer Reports urged Texas lawmakers to lower the fee to $71 to match the average gas tax paid by drivers of non-electric vehicles. The consumer advocacy group also contends that the gas tax only contributed to 29% of funding for roads in Texas — the state’s 20 cent gas tax was set in 1991, and has not been altered since.
Texas’ EV fee is on the higher end, equalling only the charge levied by Georgia. For cars weighing over 8,000 pounds, Michigan has the highest registration fee at $235. Colorado has the lowest fee for EV drivers at $50, according to MyEV.com.
• Brad Matthews can be reached at email@example.com.