February 1, 2021
Utah is setting national records, for all the wrong reasons. Salt Lake City was recently ranked the worst in the United States for bad air quality. In another record-setting move, the Utah Legislature intends to consider a bill to increase the extra annual registration fees for hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) that, if passed, would make Utah’s fees the highest in the nation.
HB 209 – Vehicle Registration Fee Revisions, sponsored by Rep. Kay Christofferson, would substantially increase annual fees for electric, plug-in electric, and hybrid passenger vehicles. The fees for an electric vehicle would increase to $300 (from $120), to $260 for a plug-in electric vehicle (from $52), and to $50 for gasoline hybrids (from $20).
The new fees would be the highest in the nation for electric vehicles, thereby deterring many Utah drivers from purchasing an EV at a time when EVs represent a small share of the vehicles on the road (just 1.8% of new car sales in Utah). The fee increases also would create a disincentive for EV use that would put Utah at a market disadvantage as major automakers and the nation transition to an EV future, and Utah would be left behind from realizing the economic development potential surrounding greater EV use.
“Tailpipe emissions from our cars is a central cause of poor air quality which is what makes electric vehicles —with zero tailpipe emissions — a key solution to this problem. Utah is rapidly becoming a leader nationally in electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Substantially hiking fees on electric vehicles risks undermining that leadership,” said Josh Craft, government relations manager for Utah Clean Energy, a local climate and air quality organization.
“This legislation would not only disincentivize people from buying the electric vehicles that will help improve our air quality and cut emissions that contribute to climate change, it would charge EV and plug-in hybrid owners much more than people driving gasoline vehicles pay in gas taxes,” said Nick Schou, Western Resource Advocates’ Utah government affairs manager. “We should be looking at opportunities to help more people make the switch to low and zero emissions vehicles, not penalizing them. Utah must look to embrace the economic opportunities of increased EV use as well as the health benefits of transitioning to emission-free transportation.”
Utah Clean Energy and Western Resource Advocates support efforts to comprehensively reform transportation funding while also accounting for the significant air quality benefits that zero-emission transportation would bring to Utah.