SCDOT: Road money drops without higher electric car fees

COLUMBIA, S.C. — (AP) — The woman in charge of South Carolina roads is warning lawmakers that the growth in electric vehicles will mean a drop in how much the state has to spend on roads unless they make some changes.

Electric cars don’t pay the gas tax because they don’t use gasoline and the $60 a year fee they pay the state is less than a third of the amount needed to match what regular vehicles pay, state Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall told lawmakers earlier this month.

She said increasing the fee to $200 to $250 would put the state in line with many other Southern states and match the average miles driven per gallon of gasoline-powered vehicles, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported.

South Carolina collects $1.15 billion a year in taxes and fees from drivers. Just $1.8 million came from registration fees on fully electric and hybrid vehicles, according to DOT.

And that number may shrink some more because gas-powered vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient, paying less in gas taxes while driving more on state roads, Hall said.

A Senate subcommittee seemed receptive to Hall’s presentation.

“We know it’s really going to be a problem in 10 to 15 years,” state Sen. Tom Davis said. “We need to get out in front and figure out what are the best ideas out there.”

Another idea might be a fee at electric charging stations, said Davis, the Beaufort Republican who is chairman of the subcommittee.

Senate Transportation Chairman Larry Grooms is having the subcommittee meet while the Legislature is not in session so they can have ideas ready when the General Assembly returns in 2022.

“Our state’s growing faster than we can keep up with. That was not addressed in the roads bill we passed,” said the Republican from Bonneau.

South Carolina lawmakers voted to raise the gas tax in 2017 for the first time in 30 years. The tax is increasing 2 cents per gallon a year for six years. In July, the gas tax rises for the fifth time to 26.75 cents-per-gallon.

(Watch Below: F-150 Lightning: Ford unveils electric pickup)