New Texas laws lay groundwork for electric vehicle growth

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

Mella McEwen

Among the record number of bills considered by Texas legislators this session, several are intended to set the stage for the growth of electric vehicles on Texas roads.

With a week to go in the session, two EV-related bills have already been signed into law and at least two are expected to receive final approval and head to the governor’s desk in coming days.

“We’ve made a lot of progress,” Tom “Smitty” Smith, executive director of the Texas Electric Transportation Resource Alliance, told the Reporter-Telegram in a telephone interview.

“I’d like to think the leaders – Gov. Abbott, state Sen. Charles Schwertner, state Rep. Ken King and others for taking this on and having the foresight to put a foundation in place before any problems occur.”

Texas, he added, seems to be following the legislative roadmap put in place by 28 other states to ensure electrification proceeds smoothly.

Senate Bill 1002 was recently signed into law with the intent of encouraging private investment in building out the charging station infrastructure. Under the legislation, public utilities would be prohibited from using ratepayer funds to build, own and operate charging stations. They can still offer EV charging but only through a separate subsidiary not funded by taxpayers.

Also signed into law was SB 505, implementing a $400 fee for new electric vehicle owners to register their vehicles and a $200 annual fee for current owners renewing their registration.

The fee was designed to replace the funds derived from gasoline taxes, and Smith said his organization would have preferred a system based on mileage driven.

SB 1001, which requires charging stations to be regularly inspected by the same inspectors who inspect gasoline pumps and also requires the equipment to display the cost of charging a vehicle, is headed to the Senate for concurrence with the House version. “We expect it to advance quickly,” Smith said.

Still under consideration is SB 1732, which would ensure any publicly funded charging station in Texas uses plugs that are widely available so everyone can have access to a plug that fits their vehicle. Up for debate in the Senate in the next few days is legislation that would allow state lands to be leased for charging stations.

“State parks, for example,” said Smith, “The Parks and Wildlife Commission could make money off the leases.” And, he added, the charging stations would still charge for their use.

Smith said most of the upgrades to electric infrastructure needed to accommodate the rise in electric vehicles aren’t expensive “and the stuff we do all the time. If you build a convenience store, you add infrastructure. It’s planning ahead.”