Archive for Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sloan’s proposal for an electric car fee met with skepticism

January 24, 2012, 11:55 a.m. Updated January 24, 2012, 2:25 p.m.


— Using less gas is an advantage for the few Kansans who've bought electric cars, but a state legislator worried Tuesday about how the state will pay for road and bridge projects if consumers flock to the vehicles and stop paying gasoline taxes.

Rep. Tom Sloan's solution is for the state to impose a new fee on the power used by electric car and hybrid owners when they charge up their vehicles, either at home or in public charging stations. But a bill the Lawrence Republican is pushing received a cool reception during a House Energy and Utilities Committee hearing.

General Motors Co. opposes the idea, and a spokesman suggested such a tax could discourage electric car sales and help kill the industry in its infancy. Legislators also worried that car owners would be forced to spend hundreds of dollars to install separate meters in their homes.

But Sloan argued that Kansas should consider imposing such a fee before electric cars become a regular feature on the state's highways. GM said only two dozen Chevrolet Volts are registered with the state, and Sloan wondered aloud during his testimony how difficult legislators would find it to impose a new fee once electric cars and hybrids number in the tens of thousands in Kansas.

"Whether it's 24 Volt owners in Kansas or 24,000, should they be paying to use the roads on which they drive?" Sloan asked the committee. "If not now, when?"

The committee took no action on Sloan's bill, and Chairman Carl Dean Holmes, a Republican from Liberal, said he's not sure whether the measure will come up for a vote. Skepticism about it was bipartisan.

Under Sloan's bill, consumers who charge their electric or hybrid vehicles at home would be required to have a separate meter to track how much electricity they use. The Kansas Department of Transportation would set the fee so that it is equivalent to the state's taxes of 24 cents a gallon on gasoline and 26 cents a gallon on diesel. Sloan believes it could amount to less than 1 cent for each kilowatt hour of electricity.

GM spokesman Jeffrey Perry, who testified during the hearing, said the company knows of no state that has imposed such a tax. Washington state last year considered but rejected a flat $100 annual fee for electric cars.

Spokesman Lindsey Douglas told the committee that the Kansas Department of Transportation is concerned about relying heavily on motor fuels taxes to finance road and bridge projects in the future, because revenues are likely to decline as even gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles become more efficient. But she said the agency is waiting to see what ideas emerge around the nation.

Perry said imposing a new fee is premature and would send the wrong signal to consumers about whether they should buy electric vehicles or hybrids. Such a tax also would discourage auto manufacturers, he said.

"If we're not being shown that there's backing behind this by the state legislatures, why would we want to continue supporting this technology and pushing forward if what we're being told is, we're going to tax this to its death before it ever gets a chance to survive?" he said.

GM's concerns were an issue for some committee members, because its plant in Kansas City, Kan., employs about 3,900 workers.

"At a time period when we're trying to create jobs, we're attacking one of our best employers in the state," said Rep. Stan Frownfelter, a Kansas City Democrat. "We could be alienating one of our best friends."


sourpuss 4 years ago

"fewer gas taxes" please. If you add an "s" to a word to make it plural, please don't use "less." "Less" is reserved for amounts you can't count. Fewer=number, less=amount. Less smoke. Less cheese. Less money. Fewer fires. Fewer pieces of cheese. Fewer coins. Fewer people.

Taxes are a number so: Fewer gas taxes.

boltzmann 4 years ago

Actually, I think that they were talking about the fact that the revenue for the a specific gas tax would be lessened, so it would be probably better to say "less revenue from the gas tax" or "less gas-tax revenue", to be clear. Your way would be correct if they were talking about multiple gas taxes and that somehow having electric cars made fewer of them.

And yes my soul is diminished by a little every time I go into Dillons and see "15 items or less", then I go home and have a beer and all is better. :)

Kendall Simmons 4 years ago

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verity 4 years ago

Maybe we should wait until we see how many electric cars are going to be used?

But of course this would discourage the use of them.

Kendall Simmons 4 years ago

Of course, at some point, this will become a legitimate issue.

verity 4 years ago

What I was trying to (oh, so cleverly and perhaps not clearly) say was that this may well be directed at discouraging the use of electric cars because they are competition to the gas industry. How better to cut them off at the pass than to make electric cars even more expensive to run?

situveux1 4 years ago

I think we should continue to subsidize them with tax credits until they get popular then slap them with a new tax. The government way.

Blessed4x 4 years ago

"Owners of electric cars or hybrids would be required to have separate meters at their homes."

What does a new meter installed on the side of your house cost? I know to install a meter on a new lot is around $10,000. Surely it wouldn't be that much. If it's even in the ballpark, that's a huge discouragement to owning an electric vehicle.

verity 4 years ago

One might even suspect that discouragement was the point.

Keith 4 years ago

What's a Republican doing raising taxes? He's going off half-Koched.

Blessed4x 4 years ago

As far as the fee is concerned, of course owners of electric vehicles should pay a road fee. They are using the road, but not paying for the upkeep. If they are requiring a seperate meter, then just tax the electricity used at that point like the gasoline is taxed when purchased. Now if you wanted to find another way to fund the repair and reconstruction of the roadways without general taxes, then I may consider that as well.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

I don't think those approximately 24 Chevrolet Volts are really wearing out the roads all that much. This is all an issue to address in a few years, I think there are more pressing problems at the moment.

coderob 4 years ago

Semis cause the most damage to roads by far, not cars. Increase the diesel tax if anything, and just make sure that electric car users pay for emergency services.

suzchase 4 years ago

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somedude20 4 years ago

Hey Sloan, why don't we just weigh every driver (or every person who has a driver's license) and make them pay by the pound. I mean, some fat bloke that weights 340lbs is going to put more stress on our infrastructure than my 165lbs butt would.

somedude20 4 years ago

All people who own a d. license will have to pay. every 3 months is a weigh-in

coderob 4 years ago

It will cost more money to collect that money.

Plurilingual 4 years ago

"The Lawrence Republican's bill would create a new fee on the power electric car and hybrid owners use to charge up their vehicles. . . . Owners of electric cars or hybrids would be required to have separate meters at their homes."

My hybrid gets its battery power from the gasoline engine and regenerative braking... I hope this proposed legislation is at least smart enough to understand that. Regardless, it is an idea that I don't like and wouldn't support.

Of course, if he tries metering at my home, my meter will read a big fat ZERO every month.

Munsoned 4 years ago

Thank you. That was eating at me, too.

Liberty275 4 years ago

"Using less gas is an advantage for the few Kansans who've bought electric cars"

Yeah, a car that runs on coal instead of gas is a real advantage. LOL.

coderob 4 years ago

Would you then use gas to power your generator?

jafs 4 years ago

I had a similar thought.

But, we'd have to calculate the emissions from generating the electricity in the first place, right?

Anybody have an idea about those vs. emissions from gasoline powered vehicles?

coderob 4 years ago

Conventional vs. Plug in Hybrid Emissions in lbs per Vehicle per Year SO2: 2.5 vs 1.0-2.2 NOx: 12.5 vs. 4 CO2 (Tonnes): 6.1 vs 3.5


Disclaimer: This is a very complex calculation involving different assumptions, and may vary by location, power source, and driving/charging habits among other things. You may find different numbers depending on who you talk to.

jafs 4 years ago


That's what I figured - it's hard to determine accurately.

But those suggest that electric vehicles are in fact less polluting, for all 3 of those substances.

And, it makes sense that it would vary depending on the "cleanliness" of the electric generation as well.

patkindle 4 years ago

this is stupid a poor guy barely has enough money to buy an electric car, now the state thinks he should pay fuel tax? next thing you know they will make it illegal to plug into your neighbors out let

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

As I see it when electric cars become more numerous the gasoline road tax should decline as the electric car road tax increases.

Mike Ford 4 years ago

rockchalk...Sloan is a Republican.....of course you wouldn't know that.... thinking isn't necessary right? besides no road taxes means no slt road. awesome.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

The electric car is not pollution free although cleaner burning however Kansas will also need to clean up the sources of electric energy.

While I understand what Rep Sloan is wanting to accomplish who will pay the cost for separate meters? Westar will love that one more opportunity to screw over ratepayers. So why not try to put it on vehicle personal property taxes instead? I cannot trust Westar.

While global warming has been a concern for many many many many many many many decades some things are for certain:

  1. Never before has there been billions upon billions upon billions of humans polluting planet earth

  2. Never before has there been billions upon billions of gasoline burning vehicles spewing pollution into the atmosphere

  3. Never before has there been billions of homes demanding energy from polluting sources

  4. Never before has there been billions of buildings demanding energy from polluting sources

  5. Never before has there been billions of polluting energy generating sources

  6. Never before has there been billions upon billions upon billions upon billions upon billions of humans clearing the rainforest for meat products and not knowing the long term impact of massive tree removal.

  7. Never before has planet earth been expected to absorb tons and tons and tons and tons of pollution with human beings having no idea what the the hell the impact might be

  8. Never before has there been billions upon billions upon billions upon billions upon billions upon billions upon billions of human beings believing THEIR pollution is having zero impact ....... can we say ignorance is bliss.

verity 4 years ago

A wind turbine in everybody's backyard.

verity 4 years ago

I just took a road trip out I-70 to Hays (yes, really!) and we all agreed that we loved the wind turbines (nine middle-aged to old ladies, aren't you glad you weren't along?). It's a lovely view. I grew up at the edge of the Flint Hills and quite frankly I think the turbines are much more beautiful than the old-fashioned windmills.

verity 4 years ago

Yes, I've seen a map---actually it goes just west of the Flint Hills and right through my home community---some of the best farm land around. We had pollution in the ground (well) water from the oil wells that had been in the area 30-40 years before when I was a child and some of it may still be around. Ever smell/drink water with sulfur in it? A spill (which is bound to happen with the on the cheap way the pipeline is being built) would be an economic disaster for a lot of people and a lot of farm land could be put out of production for a very long time.

The reason a pipeline is OK is that it is a gift to the oil companies, and the reason wind turbines aren't OK is that they are competition to oil companies. From what I can ascertain, the planned pipeline is a bust on many levels, will not produce anywhere near the jobs, temporary or permanent, or the economic benefits that are being promised.

patkindle 4 years ago

our president says, the US must reclaim values of fairness for all this means folks with enough money to buy a new electric car should be exempt from road fuel tax, and the poor folks that just have gas burners can pay the way for the electric cars , sounds fair to me

pace 4 years ago

separate meter? Wouldn't it make more sense to just add a road tax on tags for electric cars.

clarkentsman 4 years ago

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows that the average fuel efficiency for a 2011 passenger car is 33.8 MPG. At $0.24 per gallon that is a $0.0072 per mile tax. If you drive 15,000 miles in a year then you pay an extra $107 when you get your tags for a total electric car.

coderob 4 years ago

You can run as many cars a year over a bridge as you want, and barely see any damage, but put one overweight semi on the bridge and it will be deficient in no time. Anyone from KDOT could tell you that. A major solution is to get tougher on truckers who go over the weight limit. The challenge is that the trucking lobby is quite powerful, and will beat down the doors of any politician who suggest new regulations.

The other option most transportation experts support is a tax on VMT (vehicle miles traveled). The advantage is that VMT has shown reliable gains over time. People drive more than they did 40 years ago. Increase the gas tax now, and we'll only have to increase it again once fuel efficiency improves enough. Plus, messing with the gas tax is political suicide, so really continuing with our current system of funding in any form is bound to leave us with underfunded transportation infrastructure.

Pastor_Bedtime 4 years ago

I'm awaiting the subsequent tax on solar panel users, who are depriving the utility companies of revenue.

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