Electric Vehicle Policy Changes Coming Soon
With Missouri’s gas tax set to rise in October, it may be easy to overlook a mix of policy and program changes that will affect electric vehicle (EV) drivers.
The same bill that raised the gas tax will also raise the annual fuel decal fee that EV owners pay by 20 percent each year for five years. This means that the EV fee will rise from $75 to $150. Lawmakers are increasing this charge because EVs cause wear and tear on the state’s roads (just as gas-powered vehicles do), but EV drivers don’t pay into the state’s road-maintenance fund through gasoline taxes. Show-Me Institute researchers have estimated that the average driver of a gas-powered car in Missouri pays $250 per year in fuel taxes. A $150 fee would still have Missouri’s EV drivers paying only 60 percent of what other drivers (on average) pay. Nonetheless, it would be one the highest fees for EV drivers in the country.
The bill also establishes a new Electric Vehicle Task Force to study ways to ensure EV drivers pay fairly for road maintenance, such as through a per-kilowatt hour charge on electricity used to charge their EV. The Task Force will also attempt to ensure that non-EV drivers do not end up subsidizing EV drivers, as well as study what role actors typically not part of the transportation sector, like electric utilities and the Public Service Commission, play in the process.
The bill slates several government officials and industry representatives to be on the Task Force, and also stipulates that:
The task force may hold public meetings at which it may invite testimony from experts, or it may solicit information from any party it deems may have information relevant to its duties . . . .
I hope the Task force solicits input from ordinary citizens in addition to experts so that their voices are heard as well. The Task Force should also consider what other existing policies might be affecting drivers of both gas-powered vehicles and EVs (specifically, the federal ban on electric vehicle charging stations, gas stations, and nearly all other commercial activity at interstate rest stops).
Getting EV policy right is important. EV drivers should contribute their fair share for road maintenance just like drivers of gasoline-powered vehicles—with neither subsidizing the other. The transportation landscape in Missouri is changing, with more and more EVs hitting the road. Policymakers should remember that government’s role isn’t to promote or hinder the adoption of EVs, but rather to ensure a level playing field.