Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

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Georgia Legislature Retains Status Quo in 2017 General Assembly Session – Highest EV Road Use Fees in the USA

Georgia Legislature Retains Status Quo in 2017 General Assembly Session

As the 2017 Georgia General Assembly 40-day legislative session wraps up, electric vehicle drivers continue to be saddled with the highest road use fees in the US ($204.50 in 2017) and future drivers will see no incentives to adopt electric vehicles as measures to advance both a reduction in the fees and add an incentive failed to gain support within the Georgia Legislature.

Futher the bill to simply clarify that commercial and retail businesses could qualify for up to $2,500 state tax credit for charging station installation also failed to advance for the third session in a row . . . a tax credit that is still on the books and can only be claimed by Southern Company’s Georgia Power, which to their credit, was likely used to help finance the 36 community charging islands installed by Georgia Power over the past two years.

So what does this mean for Georgia and EV Drivers?

The State of Georgia has rapidly solidified its reputation for being the most-EV unfriendly state in the US, which is having a significant impact on Electric vehicle purchases which have stalled at 2015 levels. A state fleet of  25,000 plug-ins represents a mix of  low priced used Nissan LEAFs and growth from Tesla models off-setting the precipitious decline in new plug-in electric vehicle sales from Chevrolet, BMW, Ford,  KIA, and Nissan.

It has been rumored that Volkswagen of America’s Electrify America business unit, which is charged with dispensing up to $4.7 Billion in ‘diesel-gate’ remediation funds, rejected the City of Atlanta’s funding petition due to the State of Georgia demonstrating its ‘anti EV’ stance through repealing the ZEV/LEV income tax credit and imposing the $200.00 annual road use fee.  Likely the City of Atlanta lost out on several million dollars worth of EV charging infrastructure due to the decisions of the Georgia General Assembly.

If there is a silver lining, the small but growing number of EV owners in the Georgia General Assembly are ‘feeling the pain’ and have stated their commitment to address the Road Use fee again in the 2018 General Assembly.  We support them and wish them “God Speed”.


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Tell Your Representatives to Reduce the Punitive EV User Fee

Tell Your Representatives to Reduce the Punitive EV User Fee
Georgia has the highest EV user fee in the U.S. – let’s fix that!

Reposting from Southern Alliance for Clean Energy – Take Action Now

In 2015, Georgia passed a new user fee on electric vehicles (EVs). This $200 fee (increasing annually) makes EVs the highest taxed vehicles on the road in Georgia. It is negatively impacting adoption and reducing the ability of more Georgians to adopt this new, cleaner technology.

Georgia lawmakers have the opportunity, right now, to help reduce that fee. HB 317 was introduced that will reduce the fee from $200 to $100. While this fee is still higher than many of the other states that impose such a fee, it will reduce the burden to current and future EV owners. Help us keep the pressure on!

Please contact your Representative and the Transportation Committee Chairman (instructions below) TODAY! Time is critical!

Personal emails are more effective than automated emails, so please copy, paste and send from your personal email address. Add your personal story to the sample text provided below.

Follow these steps to TAKE ACTION TODAY:

  1. Email the Transportation Committee Chairman: kevin.tanner@house.ga.gov
  2. Find your legislator here and add them to your email going to the Chairman
  3. Copy and paste the sample text; customize it, especially if you drive an EV!
  4. Hit send!

Dear Representative [Insert Name] and Chairman Tanner,


I am writing to urge you to support HB 317 that would lower the punitive electric vehicle user fee. I drive a (INSERT YOUR EV HERE). I am paying more in road use fees than a pickup truck or an SUV. I agree that a road use fee is fair for an electric vehicle, but the current fee is unfair and punitive.

I currently pay tax on the electricity I use to power my EV, but I am now also paying the $204.20 user (registration) fee plus an additional fee for the Alternative Fuel tag ($35).


EVs are now the highest taxed vehicles on the road in Georgia. It is negatively impacting retention and adoption of electric vehicles and reducing the ability of more Georgians to adopt this new, cleaner technology.

Alternative fuel vehicles are good for the Georgia economy as they are using power generated in Georgia and the dollars stay in Georgia.

Please reduce the user fee and support bill HB 317.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

[Insert your name / address]


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Georgia EV Registration Fee Slashed to $100- ACT NOW!

Georgia EV Registration Fee Slashed to $100 – ACT NOW!

Six members of the Georgia General Assembly have submitted HB 317 which with the stroke of a pen could slash the $200.00 Alternative Fuel Vehicles road use to $100.00, a much fairer amount to pay. See GA Assembly HB 317 here.

Who Sponsored HB 317?

Here are the six House of Representatives members who sponsored and signed on to the Bill:

  • Jones, Todd 25th – First Term Representative from Forsyth County (Cumming) on the Transportation Committee where the $200 fee originated in the 2015 General Assembly.
  • Peake, Allen 141st – 10 year Representative from Macon. 2/18 update: In response to this blog post, Rep Peake tweeted that he and his House co-sponsors would do everything they could to get this reduction in the AFV Road use fee passed in the General Assembly.  This coming week he joins Rep Scott Holcomb as a Plug In Electric Vehicle owner. Tweet to him at @AllenPeake
  • Holcomb, Scott 81st  – 6 year Representative from Dekalb County (Doraville/Chamblee). Tweet to him at @RepScottHolcomb
  •  Parsons, Don 44th  -22 year Representative from Cobb County (Marietta) and STRONG Clean Transporation supporter in past General Assembly Sessions. Representative Parsons sponsored HB 200 in 2015-2016 to support the Georgia EV charging station Tax Credit to be extended to retail and commercial businesses. Tweet him at @Don4Georgia
  •  Cantrell, Wes 22nd  – 2 year Representative from Cherokee County (Woodstock). Tweet to him @wcantrell

What Can I do?

We thank each of these Representatives for their sponsorship and support of HB 317.
But now it is your turn (Georgia readers of this blog) to take action before the General Assembly ends in late March. PLEASE contact both your House Representative and your State House Senator to express your support for HB 317 (which needs to be passed out of the Transportation Committee, be read and voted on the House floor then be sent to the Senate for their review and vote – which from past sessions is not guaranteed to happen).

How do I find my State Representative and State Senator?

To find out who YOUR state senator and state representative are, and contact info, use this excellent resource:
1. Click this link: Find Your Georgia State Rep and State Senator
2. Enter your zip.
3. Move the resulting red marker to your neighborhood.
4. Voila, legislators on right. Contact both!

What Should I tell them?

What should you tell your Representative and Senator? Great question. Here are some message points to share with both of them who represent you:
1). If you are an EV owner tell them that you are paying more than a pick up truck or SUV for road use. They do more damage to Georgia roads while emitting carbon gases.
2). You agree a road use fee that is not captured by gasoline taxes is appropriate but in line fair use representated by the $100 fee.
3). AFV’s and especially PHEVs are good for Georgia using power generated in Georgia keeping dollars in the Georgia economy.

When Should I contact my State Representative and State Senator?

But ACT TODAY – with only 20 days left in the 2017 General Assembly, this Bill needs your support to get through the House and Senate and enacted July 1, 2017


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Here’s why electric car sales are plummeting in Georgia

Here’s why electric car sales are plummeting in Georgia

Reprinted here is the entire story written by AJC staff writer Chris Joyner published on line on January 13th and in newsprint on January 16, 2017.  Copyrighted material – Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Here’s a fact maybe not generally appreciated by commuters gazing at Atlanta’s smudgy, smoggy skyline: Georgia has the second most electric vehicles in the nation.

Here’s another fact: Not for long.

Georgia has about 25,000 electric cars on the road, mostly in metro Atlanta and largely funded by what was one of the most generous state tax incentives in the nation — a $5,000 state income tax credit. But state lawmakers, many of them conservatives who are predisposed against consumer tax credits anyway, canceled the credit in 2015 and installed a $200 registration fee instead.

That whipsaw effect pushed new electric vehicle purchases off a cliff. In July 2015, the state registered 1,426 electric vehicles purchased as the tax credit expired. The next month, just 242 were registered — that’s an 83 percent drop and sales have not rebounded.

The impact also can be seen in the decline of specialty license plate sales for alternative fuel vehicles, which are tied to the registration fee. Every all-electric vehicle — as well as some other alternative fuel vehicles — is subject to a $200 fee. Owner of such cars can opt to get the specialty license plate in return, giving them access to Atlanta’s HOV lanes.

However, since the change in state policy, monthly license plate sales are down nearly 60 percent.

“We should be around 40,000 vehicles now,” said Jeff Cohen, founder of the Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition. “We’re not growing.”

Backers of alternative fuel vehicles like Cohen have complained that lawmakers turned one of the friendliest states to the electric car into one of the least hospitable.

“According to the Georgia Department of Revenue, sales and leases have dropped over 90 percent,” said Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, a proponent of the tax credit and owner of two electric cars. “The tax credit was key to our growing this market.”

No one disagrees with that, but it made some conservative lawmakers uncomfortable. Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, served on a special joint study committee created last year to look into alternative fuel vehicles and said the dramatic decline shows the tax credit only propped up an industry that didn’t have wide consumer support.

“Our previous electric car tax credit was too generous, too rich. We have to strike a balance on what is good for the economy, what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the consumer,” said Miller. “It should be market driven, and a free-market approach answers a lot of questions.”

Credit not likely to be revived

Attempts last year to reinstate a version of the tax credit failed, and the joint study committee met three times last year and issued no recommendations. And Miller made it clear the committee was taking a wait-and-see approach to any new measures.

“At this point it’s really fluid because we are still working on trying to develop the right kind of policy that will move us forward,” Miller said. “With energy prices at their current state, it’s difficult for people to justify the investment in alternative energy and that has slowed the pace of our exploration.”

Advocates hoping the state would consider new incentives got little encouragement from the study committee.

“I’m going be as generous as I can,” said Don Francis, director of Clean Cities Georgia, a federally supported initiative. “I was disappointed at how they approached it and what the output was.”

Francis testified at the final meeting of the study committee that the elimination of the tax credit was costing both consumers and the state money as drivers spent more on gasoline and most of those dollars left the state.

Francis said it was pretty clear the committee wasn’t interested in revisiting the tax credit and instead focused on what the state could do to support business uses for alternative fuels while supporting refueling and recharging infrastructure.

There are no disinterested parties here. Miller, for example, is a car dealer and not for Tesla. Cohen is North American sales manager for General Electric’s vehicle charging stations. Car companies like Chevrolet and Nissan, which produce the most popular all-electric cars, are weighing in as well.

But there are legitimate policy questions too.

Should the state put a thumb on the scale to entice consumers to buy one type of car over another? Are consumer tax credits bad policy generally? Doesn’t the state have an obligation to address air quality and climate change by encouraging clean energy?

Francis, Cohen and others who want more state support for electric vehicles are retooling and focusing heavily on the annual registration fee. The fee, which this year will be slightly above $200, is meant to offset the gas tax which electric vehicle owners obviously do not pay but go to fund repairs on the roads everybody uses. However, the indexed fee, which this year will be slightly above $200, is the highest in the nation and there appears to be some support for lowering it.

“I think that’s a realistic priority,” Cohen said.

Cohen is bullish on electric cars (he owns three) and believes that sales will slowly rebound on their own, particularly if the lawmakers reduce the penalty to something less punitive.

“I’d rather see the registration fee addressed to maintain our population,” he said. “I’d rather not fight for a tax credit that market data may not prove we need.”

Francis said there may be a way to return a portion of the tax credit’s incentive by giving buyers a break on sales tax at the point of purchase.

“A lot of states are doing sales tax exemptions rather than credits,” he said.

Whatever the outcome, unless policy changes soon, Georgia’s unlikely position as No. 2 on the electric car rankings (way, way, way behind No. 1 California) likely is doomed.

As AJC Watchdog, I’ll be writing about public officials, good governance and the way your tax dollars are spent. Help me out. What needs exposing in your community? Contact me at cjoyner@ajc.com.

 


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EV Charging Comes to Atlanta Airport!

EV Charging Comes to Atlanta Airport and in a BIG way!

atlanta-leaders-airport-jan-2017 

What started out as a conversation between Georgia Public Service Comissioner Timothy G. Echols, City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and his Director of Sustainability Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (recently promoted to Chief Resiliency Officer) has advanced to the first phase of three phases of electric vehicle charging stations at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. The first 102 charging ports were officially unveiled on Thursday January 12, 2017.  And that was very welcome news to metro Atlanta EV drivers.

How did this finally happen?  Read on about the individuals who led the charge to make electric vehicle charging at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport happen.

don-francisDon Francis, Executive Director Clean Cities Georgia.  Don has been championing charging at the Atlanta airport for at least five years and has been actively part of the planning process that has brought the first phase of chargers. Don’s widespread network of government, industry and think tank partners along with his deep knowledge of EVs and EV charging drives his quest to ensure that the state of Georgia continues to support the growth of electric vehicles and reduces our dependence on foreign oil. Don has overseen charging station infrastructure in Georgia for over 20 years, going back to the GM EV1 project.

tim-echolsTim Echols, Commissioner, Georgia Public Service Commmission. Tim has been the most vocal publicly elected official supporting electric vehicles and charging stations for years. Tim took a position during the 2015 Georgia General Assembly to retain a modified ZEV/LEV vehicle tax credit to continue to support clean energy and to improve Georgia’s air quality. Guest Post by Tim Echols, Commissioner, Georgia Public Service Commission: Why Retain the ZEV/LEV Income Tax Credit In Georgia?As a tireless champion, Tim does not give up easily.  It was Tim’s conversation with Mayor Reed and Ms.Benfield that sparked the commitment on the part of Mayor Reed to aggressively ‘close the EV charging gap’ at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.  Tim builds bridges ‘across the aisle’ as demonstated by his re-election to the Georgia Public Service Commission this past November, garnering the largest number of votes of any elected official in the history of the State of Georgia.

stephanie-stucky-benfieldStephanie Stuckey Benfield joined the Mayor’s Office as Director of Sustainability in mid-2015 and immediately began to make her mark on alternative fuel vehicles. The City’s fleet began to transition from ‘gas guzzlers’ to fuel efficent vehicles with charging infrastructure to support the city’s EVs.  Stephanie, who is known to ride one of the city’s bicycle’s to meetings downtown, together with Don Francis and Tim Echols, saw the huge need for electric vehicle charging at the airport and in partnering with the Airport Sustainability team, initiated the dialogue with Mayor Reed suggesting that maybe 50 stations were needed. His Honor quickly increased that number 6-fold. Stephanie is truly walking the talk and recently purchased a pre-owned 2014 Tesla Model S 60 following a test drive of a new Tesla at the City of Atlanta’s first Electric Vehicle Ride & Drive event. True to her values, Stephanie purchased a ‘recycled’ electric vehicle!

paul-bowersPaul Bowers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Georgia Power, A Southern Company.  It takes amazing commitment on the part of a public utility to get behind an initiative with candidly, a negligable ROI. With just over 25,000 EV’s, it would have been very easy for Paul Bowers to politely decline support for the EV Community Charging program, which is in the process of rolling out up to 61 recharging islands with both DCFC and Level 2 stations throughout the State of Georgia.  Instead under Mr. Bowers leadership, Georgia Power has embraced and significantly advanced the ability to own an electric vehicle in Georgia as the result of the series of committments that he and his organization have made, including supporting the multi-year charging stations project at Atlanta Airport.

mayor-kaseem-reedCity of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Hartsfield Jackson Airport General Manager Roosevelt Council Junior.  Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plays host to 100,000,000 passengers a year, the majority of whom do not live in metro Atlanta. The airport is in the midst of a $6 Billion modernization program which includes the demolition and reconstruction of the North and South terminal parking decks targeting 2018-2020 timeframe.  Mayor Reed is committed to making Hartsfield Jackson International Airport the “Greenest Airport in the World.” Mayor Reed Puts Atlanta on the Global Climate Stage

councilman-gm-airportWhen asked about the timing for electric vehicle charging at the airport, Mr. Council’s predecessor said 2-3 years aligned with the new parking decks.When Mayor Reed gave the word just several months ago (summer 2016), Mr. Council got to work and found a way, partnering with Polly Sattler, Senior Sustainability Planner, to make electric vehicle charging happen throughout the airport in January 2017!   Thank you Mayor Reed for lighting the fire and thank you Mr. Council for carrying the torch!

The January 12, 2017 media event was held in the International Terminal Short Term parking deck where 75 people gathered for the announcement, several of whom were delighted to plug and and charge up during the event many had been waiting for a very long time!

evs-at-international

 Photo Credit:  Jeff Cohen


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Encouraging Electric Vehicle Developments in Georgia

As the leaves began to turn, three very significant events have taken place which bode well for the advancement of electric vehicles and supporting recharging infrastructure in the State of Georgia.

Mayor Reed in ParisHartsfield-Jackson International Airport  City of Atlanta Mayor Kaseem Reed has committed to the installation of 300 electric vehicle charging parking spots by the end of 2017. Sources indicate the charging infrastructure will be a mix of Level 1 charging stations, L1 plug-in outlets (owners can plug in their charging cordsets), Level 2 stations and even a few DCFC stations. Regardless, this is a HUGE step forward as the most notable gap for EV charging in metro Atlanta is the airport.  The first 100 charging spots will be on-line by the end of 2016 with the remaining 200 coming on stream over the course of 2017.

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State of Georgia General Assembly Joint House-Senate Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Study Committee. At the end of the 2016 Legislative Session, a resolution passed forming a Joint Study Committee led by Rep. Bubber Epps and Sen. Jeff Mulls. The committee received testimony during three sessions (Macon, Ringgold, Atlanta) and concluded their public hearings on November 9th.

During the last meeting at the State Capitol, electric vehicle testimony was provided by Nissan North America, the City of Atlanta (Director of Sustainability Stephanie Stuckey Benfield) and CleanCitiesGeorgia. The latter was provided by Executive Director Don Francis, whom everyone knows is the “Godfather of EV Charging” in Georgia.

Don made a fact based presentation to the Joint Committee seeking to demonstrate:

  • PHEV  sales in Georgia are falling. While the State of Georgia is still #2 in the nation with 24,328 plug in electric vehicles registered (California is 10x larger at 229,723 PHEV’s according to IHS Polk data year ending August 31, 2016), Georgia PHEV sales are off over 90% and Georgia’s percent of total registrations is at only 0.4% vs. 0.8% national average.  The combination of the elimination of the LEV/ZEV personal income tax credit in June 2015 coupled with the “usurious” PHEV registration fees ($204 this year) have brought the mainstream EV market to a screeching halt. At the national average of 0.8% there should be another 6,500-7,000 new PHEV’s on Georgia’s roads versus the 1,247 according to IHS Polk.
  • Foreign Oil Dependency in Georgia is Unabated. More money is spent on petroleum in Georgia ($30 Billion) than the State Budget ($20 Billion) with the vast majority of those funds leaving the state. In contrast, electricity is generated and consumed in Georgia and those funds stay in the state. CleanCities goal nationally is to reduce and ideally eliminate the United States dependence on foreign oil.
  • Legislators are leaving money on the table. The economic impact of EV’s in Georgia is well over $100 million per year between vehicle sales/resales, electricity consumed in Georgia and disposable income effects from lower cost electricity (yes even with gasoline at $2.50/gallon).
  • The PHEV Registration Fee is Punitive. The $200+ PHEV registration/road use fee is twice that of the next highest states ($100 in Michigan, North Carolina and Washington State). It needs to come down.

At the end of this final session, Mr. Francis put up the “Ask” slide and boldly put forth three recommendations which the Joint Study Committee positively received:

  1. Restore a reasonable LEV/ZEV tax credit targeting 10% of the qualifying PHEV price with a cap of $3,000. Follow the Federal model of tax credit by battery size.
  2. Reduce the Alternative Fuel Vehicles registration fee to $50.00.
  3. Support EV charging station infrastructure. Address the language in the current legislation to enable the existing EV charging stations tax credit to be applied to commercial and retail properties. BOMA spokesman Mark Gallman provided similar testimony.

The committee thanked those providing testimony on behalf of Electric Vehicles with the prevailing sentiment expressed by Senator Butch Miller: “Something needs to be done but it is a question of balance. We need to find the right balance.”

Tim Echols created Georgia’s annual Alternative Fuel Vehicles Roadshow to showcase the capabilities of a wide variety of alternative fuels including electricified transportation.

tim-echols-afv-roadshow Iv

Electric Vehicles and the Southeast Grid – Newly re-elected Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols and Union of Concerned ScientistsPeter O’Connor convened a two-day ‘think tank’ session to discuss the current and future state of electric vehicles, and charging infrastructure, to hear case studies from regional public utilities, and take a glimpse into the future of charging infrastructure.  Workplace charging was tackled by one panel and Residential charging by another. Four public utilities (Duke EnergyGeorgia Power, Florida Power and Light, Jacksonville Energy Association) shared the outcomes of their initiatives to support PHEVs and recharging infrastructure. Ally Kelly from The Ray foundation shared the plans to test bed roadway embedded EV recharging on the 18 mile stretch of Interstate 85 between Georgia and the Alabama State line named in honor of the late Raymond C. Anderson, the visionary Chairman of Interface who led the carpet industry into the recycled fibers technology.   Audi’s EV Architect (coolest job title at the conference) Wayne Kallen said that the first full Battery Electric Vehicle from Audi is coming in late 2018!

So if one were to believe that all of the PHEV development work was taking place in California, this conference would surely have demonstrated that incredible advances are being made in the Southeast and in fact Jeff Kessler representing CARB (California Air Resources Board) said as much during his panel remarks.

During the post 2015 Georgia General Assembly era, the electric vehicle constituents in Georgia have been very busy advancing infrastructure (4,500 Public Level 2 charging stations and 375 Fast Charge plugs), and building the case for the Legislature to restore the State to a leadership position in the advancement of Electric Vehicles in Georgia.

2017-chevy-bolt-ev-commercialStay tuned as we watch how the next major development – the almost $60 million VW settlement Fund [if the State accepts it], is to be administered in Georgia. You can be sure that more charging stations (and even Superchargers) are on their way as the 2017 Chevrolet BOLT, the 2018 Tesla Model 3, all new Nissan LEAF and that all-electric Audi extend the reach the electric vehicles throughout the State of Georgia and beyond.


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2016 US PHEV Sales Top 110,000

US Plug In Electric Vehicle sales are on a tear in 2016 up +31% vs. sluggish 2015 but also up +20% vs. the record setting 2014.  So what’s going on?  Two words: pricing and innovation.

tesla-p100d

Tesla delivered 34,455 Model S and Model X through September 30th following a very aggressive (for Tesla) sales push which included Model S and X ‘inventory vehicles’ – produced without a buyer and the ramp up of Model X production. Tesla reportedly converted a number of Model 3 buyers to Model S with its newly re-priced $66,000 base price. I visited Tesla stores in Atlanta and Cleveland where the store”cupboards” were bare and exhausted Product Specialists had delivered every vehicle they could get their hands on before September 30th. Tesla began to make deliveries of its 0-60 in 2.5 seconds P100D with its 315 mile driving range as well.

Chevrolet VOLT –  sales for the second 2016-chevrolet-volt-010-2-668x409-668x409-668x409generation model and its 53 mile all EV range are up +76% to 16,326 units, beating full year 2015 (15,393) and on pace to  best 2014 (18,805). Used car buyer are discovering a great value in the VOLT, which sell for less than 40% of the price of its price when new, attracting the next generation of buyers to the versatile 400 mile range VOLT.

bmw-x5-xdrive40e-livepics-29

BMW X5 xDrive 40E at almost 4,600 units helped push BMW “E” sales up by 24% off-setting lower sales for the i3 (2017 model gets a longer range battery pack at 110 EV miles) and i8  both off about 20%. BMW just started shipping the 330E with just 323 units delivered and the 740E arrives in the Fourth Quarter of this year.

Federal Incentives (up to $7,500) are still plentiful and many states also have additional incentives on top of Federal continuing to support EV sales.  US gasoline prices are creeping up but still very low so not likely impacting the sales growth of EVs.

The next chapter:  2017 Chevrolet BOLT- officially rated by the US EPA at 238 miles of all electric driving range and a base price of $37,495.00 before Federal Incentives.  The long-range, mass market EV may be finally here.  That is until the Tesla Model 3 arrives in late 2017.

2017-chevy-bolt-ev-commercial