SALT LAKE CITY—Utah will soon become one of several states to test a Road Usage Charge program for electric and hybrid vehicles, reports U.S. News.
Currently, U.S. drivers pay a state gas tax with each gallon of fuel they pump, and the money is used to maintain public roads. But as more cars rely on electricity for power, states are looking at requiring an annual Road Usage Charge, or RUC, on the miles an electric or hybrid car is driven.
Currently, the only state with a permanent RUC program is Oregon, but both California and Washington have tested the fee’s viability. Most states charge an annual flat fee to owners of cars that use an alternative fuel.
Utah’s RUC pilot program, set to begin Jan. 1, 2020, will be voluntary. During annual registration renewal times, drivers of electric and hybrid cars choose between taking part in the program or paying the current flat fee, which will be $90 per year in 2020.
Under Utah's RUC system, participating vehicle owners will be provided in-vehicle technology to track miles driven and will report the number to a third-party account manager. They will be required to send in a photo every year to make sure the mileage on file matches the miles driven. People concerned with privacy invasion may opt for limited data retention.
The initial fee is 1.5 cents for every mile driven, and the fee will be capped when the accumulated total matches the annual flat fee. The average annual Utah gas tax payments that owners of traditional vehicles pay in Utah is estimated to be around $187 in 2019. UDOT wants 400 to 500 hybrid car owners to participate in the pilot. According to documents from UDOT, 2% of Utah's 2.6 million registered vehicles, roughly 52,000, are electric or hybrid.