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

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jan 25, 2015

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.