Utah to offer road usage charge to electric, hybrid owners

FILE - Utahns can check out electric vehicle options, including homemade cars, on Saturday in Murray. Credit: Mykyta Starychenko/iStockPhoto.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah would charge electric and hybrid vehicle owners for miles driven under a voluntary program intended to compensate for diminishing gas tax returns.

The state will be one of the first to collect the road usage charge for such a purpose, The Deseret News reported Wednesday.

The Utah Department of Transportation hopes to enroll 500 hybrid and electric vehicle owners in the program scheduled to begin in January.

The state would waive an annual flat fee for those vehicles and charge them 1.5 cents for each mile driven, capping the charge to prevent the cost from exceeding the annual fee, officials said.

The Utah Legislature appropriated $755,000 to establish the program and $115,000 annually for its operation. The state also received a $1.25 million federal grant for analysis over the next five years.

Only 2% percent of Utah’s 2.6 million registered vehicles are electric, plug-in electric or hybrids, while 89.5% run on gasoline and 8.5% use diesel fuel, officials said.

“We know that gas tax will be eroded over time and we’re just trying to be ahead of the game,” said Teri Newell, transportation department deputy director.

The program is an attempt to charge people for their road use, Newell said.

“That’s really the fairest way to do it,” she said.

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