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Georgia House committee passes Electric Vehicle bill

A legislative committee approved a bill Wednesday aimed at putting in place a framework for selling electricity to drivers of electric vehicles in Georgia and taxing it.

The House Technology & Infrastructure Innovation Committee unanimously passed House Bill 406 and sent it to the House Rules Committee to schedule a vote of the full House.

The legislation stems from the work of a joint legislative study committee last year that explored how the state should prepare to accommodate an anticipated influx of electric vehicles in the coming years.

Georgia is receiving $135 million in federal funds to build a network of EV charging stations across the state. Most of the stations are likely to locate at restaurants and convenience stores, although utilities including Georgia Power also own and operate charging stations.

House Bill 406 would allow retailers to charge EV drivers for electricity by the kilowatt hour. Currently, charges are based on the length of time a vehicle is connected to the charging station.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture would be responsible for testing and inspecting EV chargers for safety and accuracy, as the agency currently does with gasoline pumps.

EV motorists would pay an excise tax on the electricity they buy. The Georgia Department of Revenue would set the tax rate at a level that would generate the same revenue the state gets from the tax on gasoline.

“The goal is to make sure as we move from carbon- based fuel to electric, we maintain our funding,” said Rep. Rick Jasperse, RJasper, the bill’s chief sponsor. “We have to make sure everybody pays their fair share.”

Jasperse said Georgia is out in front of other states on the concept of treating the electricity that powers EVs the same as gasoline for tax purposes.

“We are the leader,” he said. “We are on the absolute cutting edge of this.”

Representatives of Georgia utilities and convenience stores, who have worked with legislators for a couple of years on issues surrounding EV charging, spoke in favor of the bill Wednesday, particularly selling the power by the kilowatt hour.

“We feel this is a good opportunity to move the needle toward electric,” said Angela Holland, president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores.

But Holland and others expressed concerns over how to make sure utilities and convenience stores are charging the same rates for the electricity they sell to EVs and how to bring EV charging at multi-family residences and workplaces into the law. For now, Georgians who charge their EVs at home pay an annual fee of $216 to offset the loss of tax revenue to the state because they’re not using gasoline.

Katherine Russell, director of policy for the agriculture department, said her agency won’t be in a position to carry out the testing and inspections of EV chargers the bill calls for anytime soon.

“This is an emerging technology,” she said. “Some of the testing equipment isn’t commercially available. We’d like some time to get up to speed.”

The section of the bill dealing with the regulatory authority of the agriculture department wouldn’t take effect until the middle of 2025, but Jasperse said that might have to be moved back.

A similar bill on EVs is now before the Georgia Senate’s Regulated Industries Committee.

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