(The Center Square) – An incentive to drivers to move toward cleaner vehicles on the road made its way to the Ohio Senate on Wednesday.
The Senate Transportation Committee held its first hearing on a bill that would allow state funding for electric vehicle charging stations around Ohio.
The bill was first proposed two weeks ago by Sen. Michael Rulli, R-Salem.
Rulli wants to establish an electric vehicle charging station grant rebate program through the Ohio Department of Transportation. The senate bill is designed to add incentives for individuals, corporations or local governments to buy and build charging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles.
Rulli, whose district includes Lordstown, the home of Lordstown Motors Corp. that manufactures electric vehicles, said the lack of infrastructure in rural Ohio for electric vehicles is slowing down sales.
“An electric vehicle revolution is taking place in the ‘Voltage Valley’,” Rulli said in a news release. “Senate Bill 32 is just the beginning of a series of bills to demonstrate my commitment to economic development and innovation through good sound policy.”
If passed, Ohio would reimburse up to 90% of the cost of commercially-owned electric vehicle chargers, with a cap of $3,500 per port. For certain high-speed chargers, which can completely recharge a vehicle in a matter of minutes, up to 70% will be reimbursed, with a cap of $15,000.
The bill allots for $20 million to be distributed over the next two years. A written analysis attached to the bill is unable to estimate if this will cover the total cost, due to inadequate information on the number of electric and hybrid vehicles owned and bought in Ohio through 2023.
Some of the money will be recovered through a newly-established fee on electric vehicles. Ohio is one of eight states that currently charges a fee to own one. Electric car owners pay a $200 annual fee while hybrid vehicle owners pay $100. The Ohio Department of Transportation pushed for such a fee to accompany the 10.5-cents-per-gallon hike in gas tax beginning last year.
Last year, Rulli proposed a bill that would add up to a $500 tax credit for purchases of new electric vehicles, but the plan didn’t make it off the Senate floor.
The plant in Lordstown shut down in 2018, sending 1,400 workers home. However, the plant recently reopened, and a spokesperson for the company states it expects to fill as many as 1,000 jobs this fall, when production begins on the nation’s first all-electric pickup truck.