February 8, 2018 | last updated February 8, 2018 1:07 pm

MDOT bill proposes annual surcharge on hybrid and all-electric vehicles

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Jennifer Brennan, the energy projects manager at Greater Portland Council of Governments, charges her Mercedes-Benz Smart Fortwo at the Level 2 charging station at the office in Portland. A bill proposed by the Maine Department of Transportation would impose an annual surcharge on gas-electric hybrids and all-electric vehicles, with the goal of raising additional revenue for the state's Highway Fund.

Owners of hybrid or electric vehicles in Maine could be hit with an extra annual registration fee, ranging from $150 for gas-electric hybrids to $250 for all-electric models, under a bill proposed by the LePage administration to boost funding for the state's Highway Fund.

LD 1806, "An Act To Ensure Equity in the Funding of Maine's Transportation Infrastructure by Imposing an Annual Fee on Hybrid and Electric Vehicles," is scheduled for a public hearing before the Legislature's Transportation Committee on Feb. 13 at 1 p.m. in Room 126 of the State House.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the Maine Department of Transportation, which submitted the bill, says the extra fee is needed to ensure that hybrid and electric-vehicle owners pay their fair share of state road repairs, which rely heavily on the state's tax on gasoline sales.

"The idea is that the owners of these types of vehicles are paying far less in the gas tax than other vehicle owners and they are using the highway system just like any others," Meghan Russo, manager of legislative services for the MDOT, told the Press Herald.

With revenues from the gasoline tax declining due to improved mileage standards for new vehicles, coupled with the increasing numbers of all-electric and hybrid vehicles, Maine's highway maintenance needs are underfunded by $60 million a year, the newspaper reported. The proposed surcharge would generate almost $3 million annually in new revenue, the newspaper added, citing statistics from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles showing there are 19,450 hybrid and electric vehicles in the state.

Dylan Voorhees, climate and clean energy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, called the proposal a "punitive" measure that doesn't even come close to solving the state's revenue problem for its highway fund — adding that defeating the bill is one of environmental organization's top priorities in the current legislative session.

NRCM issues statement

NRCM issued the following statement Thursday afternoon, along with a fact sheet about the proposed bill.

"This arbitrary tax would unfairly punish Mainers who want to reduce their oil dependence, which only makes sense when we consider the origin of bills like this is ideological and tied to national fossil-fuel interests," NRCM stated. "In fact, under the bill most hybrid and EV car drivers would end up paying pay more gas tax than drivers of conventional-gasoline-only fueled vehicles. For example, both hybrid and EV drivers who drive 12,000 miles per year would pay more tax than those who own a conventional gasoline-powered car that gets 15 MPG or better.

"The transportation committee needs to look at real solutions to our transportation funding problems while encouraging these cars that are good for Maine.

"In Maine, gas-powered cars contribute the majority of climate-changing pollution and burn 70% of the oil we consume. Maine should be encouraging more cars that use less gas, and give Mainers the choice to control their transportation costs, reduce oil dependence, and help protect clean air, our health, and our economy."


Type your comment here:

Today's Poll Do you support the proposed $60 million tax break for Bath Iron Works?<>
Most Popular on Facebook