Less than four dollars. That's the cost to fuel an electric car for 100 miles in Georgia . Compare that to the typical cost of driving a conventional vehicle the same distance -- about $13.57 last year -- and even with gas prices falling, there are big savings awaiting Georgia drivers of electric vehicles.
And they're likely to spend that pocketed cash in ways that benefit other Georgians.
Two reports released recently make this argument, countering an attempt by Georgia lawmakers to slash subsidies for electric vehicles.
House Bill 122, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Martin , R- Alpharetta , proposes eliminating the current $5,000 state tax credit.
The groups that authored Wednesday's reports instead support House Bill 220. Sponsored by Evans Republican Ben Harbin , the bill would drop the credit to $3,000 or $2,000 , depending on battery capacity, before it sunsets.
"It's an emerging technology," Harbin said. "I think the market's still growing. Right now, we need an incentive. It's the only way to keep improving to get battery life better so you can take longer trips."
Harbin drives a "little Honda " the 152 miles to the capital. The Nissan Leaf, the most popular plug-in, has a range of about 80 miles between charges.
"If we could get the battery life there, I absolutely would own one," he said.
The state's overall economy benefits from the credit, according to a study sponsored by the Washington -based Securing America's Future Energy .
The author of the SAFE analysis, Robert Wescott , estimates that without the credit, the 16-year drain on the state's economic production would be $252 million , mainly from drivers paying more to operate gasoline vehicles instead of buying electric ones.
That's based on the current price of gasoline, said Wescott, former chief economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisors . If gas prices spike, owners of electric cars would have an even bigger advantage compared to the operating costs of conventional automobiles.
"In some ways, it can be thought of as an insurance policy against oil price shocks," he said.
Georgia ranks second only to California in the number of electric vehicles registered with 12,000 as of last July. Most of those EV drivers are in the Atlanta area, but at least 30 are from Chatham County , according to records compiled by the state Environmental Protection Division, which issues certificates needed to apply for the tax credit.
"Electric vehicles are cheaper to fuel, are cleaner to operate and are benefitting Georgia drivers," said Joshua Goldman , a lead policy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists , which, along with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy , released a separate electric vehicle report Wednesday. " Georgia has been a pioneer in putting electric cars on the road."
These drivers' fuel savings can be spent on other goods and services, creating more jobs and benefiting local economies better than spending on gasoline does, the report argues. That's because oil wells and refineries are located outside Georgia and often outside the country.
"For every dollar spent on gasoline in the United States in the past five years, 71 cents went to extracting and refining crude oil, while less than a dime went to the local gas station," the report states, citing federal and trade association data.
Energy independence is a goal for Harbin, too.
"There's nothing more local than electricity produced right here," Harbin said.
Harbin's bill is awaiting a hearing in the House Ways & Means Committee . Meanwhile, the leadership's plan for transportation funding, HB 170 that includes the immediate end to the credit, has already been the subject of several hearings.
"As we tell our story, hopefully, we'll get more people to our side," Harbin said.
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