Utah lawmakers discussing increased fees for electric and alternative-fuel vehicles

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Buying a hybrid or an electric car is supposed to save drivers money, but some say the savings could soon see a decrease if a bill under discussion by Utah lawmakers goes through.

Tim Thomas is proud to be the driver of a hybrid. He said he likes protecting the environment and his money, so he's concerned that lawmakers are discussing the idea of raising registration fees on alternative fuel and electric vehicles.

"I just think it's a really bad idea,” he said. “We should be incentivizing people to be driving around cars that don't put off as many emissions, right now, especially in the orange air we have today.”

Lawmakers argue that fuel-efficient cars put the same wear and tear on the roads as more conventional cars, without paying for it.

Rep. Greg Hughes, a Republican representing District 51 and the Speaker-elect for the Utah House of Representatives, explained: "Certainly if you’re using the roads there should be a commensurate, or a way to tax for the usage, and it's necessary to keep the infrastructure strong.”

But Hughes said finding a solution isn’t something to be rushed.

"But let's be careful when and how we implement that, so that we're not discouraging the use of alternative fuels, we need alternative fuels,” he said.

Thomas, however, said he feels like drivers like him are being specifically targeted.

"Focusing solely on hybrids and electrics isn't the right way to go,” he said. “There's many vehicles out there that are actually getting as much gas mileage, like Jettas and stuff like that, so are we going to discriminatorily go after the hybrids and electrics or are we going to look at each car individually?”

Rep. Johnny Anderson, a Republican representing District 34 and the Transportation Committee Chair, said if registration fees do increase, he couldn’t see that increase being greater than $75 annually. He said he would like to see the majority of that money go toward promoting green, clean transportation.

"And using that money to help incentivize employers to put in electric charging stations, maybe get new electric charging infrastructure up and down I-15 so that people can utilize electric vehicles more and more,” he said.

6 comments

  • Laurel Weaver

    We already pay more for a hybrid which means more sales tax revenue. I totally agree with Mr. Thomas. Not a good idea.

  • Trevor

    They should just increase the fees on all vehicle registrations and get rid of the fuel tax. That would be fair.

    • Utah Red

      I don’t think so, Trevor. Those that drive more should pay more. That’s fair. Gas taxes pay for the roads so Laurel wants to drive the roads for free. Is that fair, Laurel? The only fair solution is to dump the gas tax and make toll roads. Those that use the roads will pay for the roads. Those that use them most pay the most. That’s fair.

  • Mimi

    They had better not! People have these vehicles to save money and to help improve our air quality! Do they want to penalize people for that??? Freakin a-holes we have for law makers.

    • WattEVrMan

      You can save money and air quality by walking or riding a bicycle. Building and maintaining roads costs money. People who think we can increase adoption of cleaner vehicles by putting the tax burden squarely on the shoulders of those who buy gas and diesel are coming up short on good ideas for how to maintain funding levels for needed infrastructure.

      If everyone in the state of Utah switched to driving EVs tomorrow, They would still need money to build, sweep, paint and plow roads–not to mention public safety for when crashes and disasterstwhile happen.

      Taxes for miles driven and/or specific stretches of higher maintenance roads and bridges used (tolls) seems l like the fairest way to cover the costs of helping people get around.

  • DB

    So, Utah wants to tax my fuel saving hybrid to finance ways to save fuel? Really? Am I getting a free ride? Last I checked, my annual registration fee is three times what I was paying in TX. Are Utah roads more expensive? I enjoy my Prius but on the other hand, I’m not out to save the planet, so to speak. At trade-in time I may want to rethink my options. That’s not going to help the air quality in SLC one bit.

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