A proposed new fee for hybrids and EVs in Maine could be the highest in the country, reduce clean vehicle adoption.

The Maine Department of Transportation wants to add an annual registration fee for hybrids and electric vehicles. $150 for hybrids, and $250 for electric models. The DOT is looking to impose the fee because they say that drivers of the more energy efficient vehicles aren’t paying their fair share toward road maintenance.

the owners of these types of vehicles are paying far less in the gas tax than other vehicle owners and they are using the highway system just like any others,” MDOT Manager of Legislated Services Megan Russo told the Portland Press-Herald. “There has got to be a way to try and capture revenue from those drivers who are using our road system.”

Despite a 30-cent tax per gallon of gas, Maine’s highway maintenance is underfunded by $60 million per year. Officials know that this new fee won’t solve the problem, but it will help.

“We think drivers should be paying some sort of fee, let’s talk about what amount would be appropriate,” Russo said.

SEE ALSO: Sierra Club Fighting Hybrid and EV Fees in Oklahoma

Hybrid and electric vehicles make up less than three percent of the vehicles on Maine roads. There are about 19,450 of in the state, according to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. That means that the proposed fees would raise approximately $2.9 million per year toward the road maintenance budget.

Maine wouldn’t be the first state to put a fee on electrified cars. Eighteen other states have registration fees ranging from $30 to $100 for hybrids and $50 to $200 for electrics.

Owners and conservation groups were not happy with the proposed fees, saying that they were being targeted by the legislation.

“I feel like I am being punished if this bill goes through because I am doing the right thing,” Gretchen Ebbesson-Keegan, a retired teacher, told the Press-Herald.

Ebbesson-Keegan drives a nine-year-old Toyota Prius.

The Sierra Club Maine has called the fees unreasonable and punitive toward electrified vehicle owners.

“Gas-burning vehicles are a major source of toxic air pollution and the largest source of carbon pollution in Maine. Levying a tax on cleaner cars is counter-productive to the state’s interest in reducing car pollution. One state that imposed high fees on EVs, for example, learned this the hard way,” said Sierra Club Maine Transportation Team Chair Tony Donovan last year.

Donovan was referring to Georgia when he said that a state learned the hard way. That state moved from one of the highest EV incentives to a $200 per year EV fee and saw EV sales drop by 80 percent.

The new fees would see the owner of a hybrid or electric vehicle paying more for road use than most ICE vehicle drivers. At $250 per year, an EV would pay about the same in fees as the driver of a vehicle that gets just 18 miles per gallon over 15,000 miles.

The LePage administration in Maine has floated other legislation to help pay for road maintenance. A bill was proposed that would redirect some of the sales tax on car and car part purchases to the highway fund, but it is unlikely to pass due to overall budget concerns. But don’t expect a gas tax increase to make sure that more efficient conventional cars pay their share.

“This administration has been very clear, they are opposed to a gas tax increase,” Russo said.

Press-Herald