(NEXSTAR) — Texas drivers looking to drive cleaner will have to fork out more money to do it, starting Sept. 1. Earlier this week, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 505 into law, which will establish a $400 fee to register an electric vehicle in Texas — in addition to a $200 annual fee.
That’s in addition to annual Texas vehicle registration fees, which cost $50.75 for most passenger vehicles/trucks. In total, a new EV owner could pay over $650 in the first year.
The bill was approved by the Texas Senate in March and approved by the state House last month. The author of SB 505, Republican Sen. Robert Nichols, said the law aims to make sure EV owners are paying their fair share of state highway funding, which is paid for by gasoline/diesel fuel tax dollars.
“We recognized some time ago that each time an all-electric vehicle does get on the road and displaces a gasoline or diesel vehicle the state highway fund loses money,” Nichols said in March. “So the object here is to try to identify how much money we lose on both state and federal and try to make that up with a fee adjustment.”
Currently, Texas’ gas tax is 20 cents per gallon, with the average driver paying $9.52 per month in state fuel taxes, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. As Gizmodo explains, U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows the average Texas driver consumed around 55 million British thermal units (BTU) of motor gasoline in 2018. To convert BTUs into gallons, the EIA recommends 1 gallon = 120,238 BTU.
Measured this way, the average Texan uses 457 gallons of gasoline each year, meaning they pay around $91.40 in fuel taxes. Consumer Reports Senior Policy Analyst for Transportation and Energy, Chris Harto, wrote last year that bills like SB 505 would punish EV owners, since the average Texan actually only contributes around $71 per year, based on their data review.
Given even the higher figure, $91.40, EV owners in Texas would actually be paying around $500 more in fuel taxes in their first year of ownership.
And Texas isn’t alone in charging EV owners.
As the National Conference of State Legislatures reports, at least 32 states require special registration fees for electric vehicles. Additionally, 19 also collects fees for plug-in hybrid vehicles.
As detractors of such laws argue, it’s a concern that these laws are unfair to those wanting to consume less — in addition to potentially being camouflaged support of the gasoline industry by lawmakers.
“Consumers should not be punished for choosing a cleaner, greener car that saves them money on fuel and maintenance,” CR policy analyst Dylan Jaff wrote in April. “The fees proposed in this bill will establish an inequitable fee scale for EV owners, and will not provide a viable solution to the long-standing issue of road funding revenue.”