Following Failed Attempt Last Year, Electric Car Incentives Back on the Cutting Block in Georgia

The state of Georgia, thanks in part to generous state incentives of $5,000 in tax credits for each and every new electric car purchase within state — not to mention the efforts of some really enthusiastic, pro-electric car enthusiasts and salespeople in the Greater Atlanta area — is one of the quickest-growing electric car markets in the U.S.

Atlanta, Georgia is currently the number one market for the Nissan LEAF.

Atlanta, Georgia is currently the number one market for the Nissan LEAF.

Electric cars are so popular that Atlanta, Georgia is Nissan’s number one U.S. market for the LEAF electric car, outselling San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle.

If Georgian Representative Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) gets his way, that will soon end, courtesy of a new bill he plans on introducing to the Georgia House later today.

Enter Georgia House Bill 122, a bill designed to end the current $5,000 state tax credit for electric vehicles on July 1 this year, leaving those who want to purchase a plug-in car after that date a far higher sticker price to pay.

Despite being known for its high numbers of plug-in car owners, Georgia’s electric car history is far from smooth. Last year, a similar bill seeking to cut Georgia’s generous EV incentives passed the House twice, but failed to meet with approval from the state Senate.

Then in August last year, the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association filed papers at the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings, claiming Californian electric automaker Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] was in violation of O.C.G.A. §10-1-664.1(7), a state law governing the relationship between auto dealers, automakers and customers and the way in which cars could be sold int he state.

Georgia has had a turbulent history with electric cars, including legal challenges from its Auto Dealer Association against Tesla.

Georgia has had a turbulent history with electric cars, including legal challenges from its Auto Dealer Association against Tesla.

This time around, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  says Martin had more than 60 signatures of support for his bill as of yesterday evening. While that’s far from the majority needed to pass the bill to the upper house, it does seem likely that Martin will yet again receive the support he needs on the house floor when it’s time for the vote and all of the usual whipping has taken place.

“Is it really good state policy to pay $50 million per year to let a select group of 10,000 or more individuals drive a particular type of car for free or almost free?” asked Martin in a rent political discussion piece for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In the same post however — which allowed both sides of the electric car tax credit argument to make their case — Nissan LEAF owner and member of the Georgia Public Service Commission Tim Echols argued passionately for keeping the credits. Aside from the environmental benefits and the positive message sent to millennials about the importance of moving away from polluting fossil fuels, Echols found it easy to make an economic argument.

“For every 1 percent of petroleum-based miles displaced by electric vehicles in Georgia, approximately $201 million dollars remain in the state annually. Each pure electric vehicle keeps $2,242 a year in state by fuelling with electricity rather than petroleum-based products. For a state without a single oil well or refinery, this is huge,,” he said.

While one bill would end electric car tax credits, another suggests widening them to include plug-in hybrids.

While one bill would end electric car tax credits, another suggests widening them to include plug-in hybrids.

If we had to guess, we think Martin’s bill — which is supposedly kinder than previous versions of the bill to plug-in owners — will yet again pass the lower house. But this time, it does face some competition from a similar bill by Representative Ben Harbin, (R-Evans).

What’s more, Harbin’s bill could find supporters in the plug-in community.

Harbin’s bill ultimately has the same end-game as Martin’s bill, but does so in a very different way. Instead of ending the credits abruptly this year, it proposes cutting the size of the electric car tax credit available, gradually phasing it out in stages by 2019. Unlike current legislation, Harbin’s bill would include plug-in hybrid and range-extended electric cars for the first time in the bill, meaning that while the total individual credits available to individuals would be less, more Georgians would ultimately benefit.

As with all plug-in legislation, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this story as it develops, so be sure to check back regularly to find out the latest news as we have it.

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  • BEP

    Anyway, I find that this kind of unconditioned incentives (i.e., you get $5’000 no matter what electric car you get) are a shame. It should not be allowed that someone paying, say, $110’000 for a car gets a gift from the State. There should be a upper limit (let’s say $50’000). If you can pay more than that, you don’t need incentives.

    • Will Davis

      No, that’s not the best way to do it. You’d be better off calculating the incentive based on the buyer’s income and/or social situation. The incentive should benefit the poorer customer regardless of the car’s value.

  • Neil Wilson

    I received an email from the Atlanta Nissan Dealer that leased us our Leaf alerting us to Chuck Martin’s proposed change/removal of the Georgia State Tax Credit..nnThe email they including the following comment..nn”Opposition to this Tax Credit is for purely political reasons, not practical ones. Many big business interests have lobbyists working hard to make sure this credit goes away (Southeast Toyota is the largest company in opposition).”nnWe were considering buying a Prius to replace our remaining ICE car but their continued opposition to EVs is really putting us off ever buying another Toyota.nnMeanwhile I see that Georgian Representative Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta)’s Facebook Page had the following entry on Nov 6th.nn*Note that ‘Partnership for a Better Energy Future is funded in part by National (Coal) Mining Association.nnhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/State-Rep-Chuck-Martin/59307301393n—————————————————————————————————-nRep. Chuck Martin Comments on Poll Regarding EPA Clean Power Plan:nnATLANTA u2013 State Representative Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) commented today on recent poll data released by the Partnership for a Better Energy Future, which suggests voter opposition against the EPAu2019s proposed Clean Power Plan.nnu201cThese polls just confirm what most of us already know. The Obama administrationu2019s Clean Power Plan, currently being implemented by the EPA, is concerning to many Americans, who will likely see higher bills, less reliability, and more economic uncertainty,u201d said Rep. Martin. u201cGeorgians need access to all affordable and reliable energy sources in order to create jobs, stimulate the economy and provide valuable resources for future generations.u201d nnThe poll, which was conducted by Paragon Insights in early October, included a national survey of 1,340 likely voters and a statewide survey of 953 likely voters in Georgia. Findings include the following:nnA majority of those polled said they believe the United States cannot afford new costs and potential job losses resulting from the EPA regulationsnnNearly half of those polled said they are not willing to pay a single dollar more in their energy bill to accommodate the regulationsnn40 percent of Georgia voters polled said they would be less likely to cast their vote for a candidate who supports EPAu2019s Clean Power Plannn22 percent said they would be more likely to vote for candidates who do support the rulenn47 percent of Georgia voters said they opposed the regulationsnnMiddle-class voters and seniors were among the top opponents of the rulennThe EPAu2019s proposed Clean Power Plan was released on June 2, 2014, in an effort to cut carbon emissions from new and existing power plants. The EPA is accepting public comments regarding the proposed plan through December 1. For more information on the EPAu2019s Clean Power Plan, please click here.nnThe Partnership for a Better Energy Future is a coalition of 175 members, who represent a variety of segments in the U.S. economy. Members include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau Federation and National Mining Association. For more information on the Partnership for a Better Energy Future, please click here.nnnn————————————————————————————————–

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