The fee, which doesn't apply to hybrids or neighborhood-electric vehicles, will be used for road services that would be otherwise paid through gas taxes. Washington charges 37.5 cents a gallon in fuel taxes. The bill, which passed by a two-to-one margin, will next be voted on by the state's house of representatives, the wire service said.
Senate Bill 5251 was introduced about a year ago by Mary Haugen, the Senate's transportation committee chairwoman, as a way to compensate for the fact that EVs put the same wear and tear on state roads as conventional vehicles do. The fee is about half of what a typical Washington state driver pays in gas taxes, and would add as much as $1.9 million to the state's budget by 2017.
Many cash-strapped states are trying to figure out how to ensure that more consumer interest in electric vehicles won't translate into lost state revenues because of less gas taxes. Some Arizona legislators earlier this month proposed taxing EV drivers as much as 1.43 cents per driven mile. That state in January repealed an emissions program that incentivized more alt-fuel vehicle use after just one year. Oregon and Kansas are among other states looking at EV-related fees.