Push to unplug Georgia's electric vehicle tax credit falls short - CBS46 News

Push to unplug Georgia's electric vehicle tax credit falls short

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*UPDATE: House Bill 257 did not pass.  Lawmakers ran out of time before they could vote on the proposed bill.*

An Alpharetta lawmaker wants to end a 16-year-old tax credit on the purchase of zero and low-emission vehicles in Georgia.  

Republican Rep. Chuck Martin introduced House Bill 257 which was passed by the House of Representatives last Monday and is expected to be debated in the Senate.

Currently, Georgia allows up to a $2,500 tax credit for low-emission vehicles and a $5,000 tax credit for zero emission vehicles.

"My personal view on the [current] policy is it shouldn't be so rich for the taxpayers to allow someone to buy a car for free," said Martin, referring to recent lease deals for the Nissan Leaf.

Martin said if people continue to buy electric vehicles at the current rate, he expects taxpayers could have a $30 million liability by the end of 2014.

Most of the 3,000 zero emission and low-emission vehicles that have been certified in Georgia have been purchased within the last two years, according to Clean Cities-Georgia, a coalition of government and public interest groups and businesses working to promote alternative fuel technology.

"I think it is extremely vital," said Michael Beinenson, of Alpharetta, about the tax credit which prompted him to purchase a Nissan Leaf last year. "It was an expensive vehicle. It had higher monthly payments than I was paying at the moment."

Beinenson calculated that he's paying $203 a month after the credit.

Don Francis, the coalition's executive director, said unplugging the credit would slow the growth of alternative fuel technology in Georgia and hurt the environment and economy.

"Each electric vehicle, we estimate, keeps $2,400 a year in Georgia which normally would have flowed out to other states like Louisiana and Texas to buy gasoline or diesel," said Francis.

Francis said the electric vehicle technology is leading to the creation of new jobs for electricians who are needed to install charging stations at homes and businesses.

Although Martin's bill passed the house, he admitted to CBS46 investigative reporter Jeff Chirico that he wants to change it. After discussing the issue with Francis and Beinenson, Martin said he wants to add a temporary credit for plug-in hybrids and then implement a gradual but definite phase out of the credit. 

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