Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

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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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National Drive Electric Week 2016 Metro Atlanta Event – September 10, 2016

Save the date!  Join metro Atlanta electric vehicle owners and our event sponsors for the 6th Annual National Drive Electric Week event in metro Atlanta.  This year the event will be held in Alpharetta Georgia at the incomparable Avalon community off GA 400 Exit 10 Old Milton Parkway.

Date:  Saturday September 10, 2016  Place: Avalon Alpharetta Time: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Check out the details at : Drive Electric Week Avalon Sept 10 2016.  Please register to attend and if you are an Electric Vehicle owner, please register as a volunteer/attendee.  We will have breakfast and lunch for you, a Goodie Bag and give you the opportunity tell event goers about your experience as an EV owner.

Sponsors to date include

  • Georgia Power – Electric Transportation
  • Sierra Club – Georgia Chapter
  • Hannah Solar
  • Clean Cities Georgia
  • Tesla Avalon

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I am proud to serve as this year’s City Captain along side CleanCities Georgia Executive Director Don Francis.  If you would like more information about how you can get involved in the event email me at AtlantaEVDC@gmail.com or Don at don@cleancitiesgeorgia.org.


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First Look at Georgia EV Sales Post Tax Credit Repeal

Thanks to CleanCitiesGeorgia, and specifically to its Executive Director, Don Francis, we have our first look at EV vehicle registrations (the best measure for sales since these vehicles are actually registered for use in Georgia) in the 60 days following the repeal of the $5,000 Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) tax credit on June 30, 2015.

No surprise, registrations have been cut in half, off by -49% to an average of 462 vehicles in July-August versus a January-June average of 915 EVs. When you look at the data broken out by Battery Electric Vehicles (ZEV tax credit eligable) and Plug-in Hybrid Electrics (ZEV/LEV tax credit ineligable) the PHEV’s are off -24% (31/month July-August vs. 41 January-June) while the BEV registrations have fallen by -46% to 431 units vs. 874 January-June.

Some of this is certainly explained by the pre-Tax Credit repeal ‘Gold Rush” sales in April-June which produced sales of 3,469 EVs. And with the tax credit repealed, EV automaker sales, led by Nissan LEAF (-55%) and BMW i3 (-52%) dropped like a rock. Tesla fared slightly better experiencing only a -19% drop in monthly average sales of the 3 year old Model S (57 vs. 70 units).

So is there any good news?  YES!  Georgia has added another 6,413 EV’s in 2015 bringing cumulative new EV registrations to 22,795 vehicles over the five year period (not accounting for trade ins, lease returns, accidents) or almost a 40% increase in the number of EV’s registered in the State of Georgia.

Georgia EV Registrations 2010-Aug 2015

What can we expect going forward:  further fall off in EV registrations in Georgia until the following happens:

1). Lower cost EV’s are introduced – $30-35,000 price with ranges well in excess of 100 miles. Automotive OEM plans call for vehicles like the Chevrolet BOLT, Tesla Model III, and the next generation Nissan LEAF to meet these metrics.

2). Growing numbers of used EVs come back into Georgia. Almost daily I hear of some one who got ‘the deal of a lifetime’ on a 2 or 3 year old Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet VOLT and yes even a Tesla Model S which only adds to the EV fleet on Georgia’s roads.  For 2nd owners, used EVs can be a tremendous value, with plenty of warranty left on the car and the battery and generally pretty low mileage and pricing which reflects the Federal rebates they received when new.

3). New Incentives are introduced in Georgia taking the form of a tax credit, point of sale rebate (as Connecticut, Tennessee and Massachusetts are doing) or some other form of incentive.  Fortunately, the Federal Tax Credit for EV’s still has a long life ahead since it is based on the number of qualifying EVs produced by the automotive OEMs (200,000 per name plate then phasing down thereafter).

4). The EV Road Tax is reduced or repealed.  The current $200.00 EV road tax as has been discussed on this blog before, is unfair and unjust. It will likely be the subject of legislative proposals in the 2nd year of this Georgia General Assembly session or into the next.

As more data becomes available, look for updates to this blog post.


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Guest Post by Tim Echols, Commissioner, Georgia Public Service Commission: Why Retain the ZEV/LEV Income Tax Credit In Georgia?

I was in a restaurant the other day when a legislator came up to me and asked an important question that all of us need to be ready to answer.  He asked, somewhat hostilely I might add, “what has Georgia received for the almost $15 million invested in electric cars via the tax credit?” 

Our response to this question may determine whether Georgia’s $5000 ZEV income tax credit lives or dies.

Probably our first answer needs to be economic, and not just “our” personal economics. Remember, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, for every one percent of petroleum-based miles travelled in Georgia that is displaced by electric vehicles, approximately $201 million dollars will remain in the state of Georgia annuallyEach pure electric vehicle purchased keeps $2,242 annually in the state of Georgia by fueling with electricity rather than petroleum-based products.  This is huge.

The second reason is similar and one that Don Francis of Clean Cities Georgia talks about frequently.  The tax credit received comes back after we file our taxes as a refund, and then gets spent.  It buys things in Georgia like clothes, appliances and services.  That has a multiplier effect.

Third, electric vehicles fit nicely with our electric grid here.  Georgia Power has set up a special tariff [Editor Note: called Plug In Electric Vehicle Time of Use Rate Plan – see Resources tab] to encourage people to get electric vehicles and charge them overnight—when power is super cheap and plentiful.  According to a study of 1000 of these Georgia electric car owners on the PEV rate plan, they are not only using electricity instead of gas, but they are saving $180 per year to boot.  How?  They are shifting their usage to the evening and overnight period. This is good because we have extra electric capacity overnight, and these vehicles help us utilize it.  Then, during the day, electric vehicles and equipment are quiet, clean and efficient and offer users the opportunity to save money on fuel and maintenance costs and reduce their environmental impact.

Fourth, with Atlanta out of compliance with the EPA rule, the metro area needs all the help it can get to attain the standard and save everyone the cost of an emission sticker—not to mention their lungs. Remember, gasoline or diesel engines deteriorate over time, leading to higher emissions with the age of the vehicle, whereas electric vehicles will potentially get cleaner over time as the generation of electricity gets cleaner.

Finally, electric cars send a message to young people. As I sat recently with Mayor Reed discussing Atlanta’s success with electric cars, I asked him what he thought was the greatest benefit our region has received from the $15 million invested through state tax credits thus far. He didn’t hesitate.  He said it has sent a strong message to millennials about our priorities. This investment, he further explained, makes Atlanta a more livable city where people want to be.  He likened it to the Beltline and other quality of life projects that are drawing talented young people back into the city to live and work.  As an Atlanta native, I can get excited about that.

Nissan is having great success with the LEAF and Georgia is the 2nd largest market in the U.S. for all EVs.  But behind Nissan, BMW, Kia and many other manufacturers are coming with electric carsOur message to the legislature needs to be to hold off for another year before taking action.  Let’s allow the other manufacturers to benefit as Nissan has done.  Then, if they decide to eliminate this credit, do it slowly and phase it out over the next decade.  Georgia has a great business climate, in part because we don’t make knee-jerk regulations causing uncertainty and confusion in the marketplace.  Let’s not change that now.

I urge you to reach out to your legislator—now—before the session starts and communicate the value of the credit to our state and its citizens.


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Georgia Power to Invest $12 Million to Advance Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

The  Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that Georgia Power is about to launch a broad-based round of incentives to stimulate residential, commercial and public charging infrastructure development in its service areas. The reported $12 million program provides for a $250.00 rebate for consumers who install a level 2 EV charging system at their homes, and $500.00 for commercial properties who install a level 2 (AC 240v/40 amp) or $250.00 for level 1 (AC 110v/16 amp) charger at their workplace.  Home and work are the top two places EV drivers want to charge up their vehicles.

Additionally, Georgia Power is working with the City of Atlanta to support the creation of 50 public charging ‘islands’ where both level 2 and Fast Charge (DC 480v/100 amp) will be built to dramatically enhance the public availability of fast charging systems which will improve EV charging infrastructure in metro Atlanta and begin to build fast charge corridors to the outlying metro Atlanta areas including Athens, Newnan and Conyers GA.

Here’s the link to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s breaking story:  http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/atlantech/2014/10/georgia-power-to-invest-12m-in-driving-electric.html.

Georgia Power is no stranger to building electric vehicle infrastructure.  In the early 1990s,  Georgia Power installed over 500 level 2 charging stations in support of GM’s EV1 program when Atlanta was a test city.  Some of those stations can still be found in and around Atlanta.

CleanCitiesGeorgia Coordinator Don Francis, a 31 year veteran of Georgia Power, will help oversee this new program.


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Workplace Charging in the Garden State Courtesy of PSEG

Charging your electric vehicle at work in New Jersey just got a little easier thanks to a WorkPlace Charging program sponsored by PSEG. PSEG will provide up to 150 charging systems for free. Participating workplaces will need to install the units and pay for the electricity. PSEG will own the charging systems and collect usage data to better understand the impact of workplace charging on electric demand and the electric delivery system.

PSEG also released data on the first year of operations of its own employee electric car incentive program launched one year ago, including:

  • The 13 employees in the program are estimated to have driven 120,000 miles on electric commuting to and from work in the first twelve months of the program.
  • The participants are estimated to have saved 5,300 gallons of gas and avoided spending nearly $19,000 on gas just on their commute.
  • By commuting on electric, it is estimated that the program helped avoid 50 to 60 tons of CO2 being released into the air as well as reduced  particulate, SOx and NOx emissions in communities through the state.

 Workplace charging programs are pickingup steam across the US! Recently, the Department of Energy through the CleanCities program announced a $4.5 million funding program to encourage greater consumer engagement with alternative fuel vehicles. No doubt many of those pilot programs will focus on workplace charging. Georgia is expected to compete for funding given the very strong CleanCitiesGeorgia program under the leadership of Director Don Francis.