Maine considers hybrid, EV fees for highway fund

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Maine legislative committee is considering a proposed law that would add a surcharge on the annual registration of hybrid and battery-electric motor vehicles, to raise money for the state's highway fund -- but as with previous efforts to raise fees on hybrid and electric vehicles, the 2018 proposal is facing opposition from some quarters as contrary to state policy.

At issue is a bill named, "An Act To Ensure Equity in the Funding of Maine's Transportation Infrastructure by Imposing an Annual Fee on Hybrid and Electric Vehicles." Also known as LD 1806, the bill would impose surcharges, dedicated to the Highway Fund, on the annual registration of a hybrid and battery-electric motor vehicles. It defines hybrid motor vehicle as an automobile or pickup truck powered by a combination of a fuel combustion engine and electric motor, and would impose a $150 annual fee on hybrids. It defines battery-electric motor vehicle as "an automobile or pickup truck the primary motive power of which is an electric motor," other than a low-speed vehicle, and would impose a $250 annual fee on battery-electric motor vehicles.

According to an analysis posted on, if LD 1806 is enacted, the amount Maine electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid drivers would pay in lieu of gas taxes "would be tops in the nation."

Rather than imposing new fees on hybrids and electric vehicles, previous legislatures had extended tax exemptions to hybrid and clean fuel vehicles. State law supports the deployment and integration into the electric system of advanced electric storage and peak-reduction technologies, including plug-in electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

According to Maine's 2015 Comprehensive Energy Plan, at that time alternative vehicles remained a relatively small percentage of Maine’s vehicle fleet, but "the state should consider partnerships with large fleet owners to transition to alternative vehicles including natural gas, propane, and electricity."

But with the state highway fund facing a significant deficit relative to its budget in 2017, last year the legislature considered several bills that proposed raising fees on hybrid and electric vehicles to fund roads. One bill, LD 1226, An Act To Keep Maine's Transportation Infrastructure Safe by Providing More Sources of Revenue for the Highway Fund, would have imposed an annual registration fee of $250 on hybrid vehicles and $350 on electric vehicles, rather than the typical $35 annual fee for passenger vehicles.

Last year the legislature did not enact LD 1226, but it did carry over a similar bill for further action in 2018. LD 1149, An Act To Provide Revenue To Fix and Rebuild Maine's Infrastructure, would impose a $200 surcharge, dedicated to the Highway Fund, on the registration of hybrid motor vehicles, battery-electric motor vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell motor vehicles. LD 1149 was carried over by the legislature for further action this year and could be taken up again, although the more recently printed LD 1806 covers similar ground.

The committee heard testimony on LD 1806 on February 13, 2018, much of which was critical of imposing new fees. According to the committee calendar, a work session on the bill is scheduled for February 22.

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