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Ga. Electric Car Owners Considering Lawsuit Over New Fee

In this Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015 photo, Jason Marraccini, of Atlanta, recharges his Nissan electric vehicle at an auto dealership in Roswell, Ga. Georgia’s generous $5,000 tax credit for electric vehicles is the target of three separate bills in the state House, including one lawmaker trying to end the write-off altogether. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
In this Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015 photo, Jason Marraccini, of Atlanta, recharges his Nissan electric vehicle at an auto dealership in Roswell, Ga. Georgia’s generous $5,000 tax credit for electric vehicles is the target of three separate bills in the state House, including one lawmaker trying to end the write-off altogether. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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Electric car owners are considering a class action lawsuit over new state fees.

Beginning in July, electric car owners will have to pay $200 annually as part of a state plan to raise a $1 billion for Georgia’s underfunded network of roads and bridges.  

Michael Beinenson, president of the EV Club of the South, says the fee is punitive and treats electric cars as if they were inefficient SUVs.

“We’re not opposed to paying a fee. We should be paying a fee, whether it’s 20 bucks, 50 bucks, whatever it is. But it can’t be just arbitrarily created because it was a nice round number.”

Roads in Georgia are maintained through gas taxes. Lawmakers argued electric car owners were essentially getting a free ride.

Public Service Commissioner and electric car advocate Tim Echols agrees the fee is punitive but backs a more diplomatic approach. He says electric car owners like himself simply need to make a better case to lawmakers.

“I put the blame on us. Not on my Republican colleagues in the Legislature,” Echols said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to go back next year and say ‘OK, what could work. What are you comfortable with.’ We just need to build consensus. It’s nothing we haven’t done before on other issues.”

Beinenson says he and his group will decide whether to move forward with a lawsuit once they see how the fee is implemented in July.