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  • Writer's pictureTom Moyer

Priority bills this week

Below are some of the significant bills coming up soon. As always, we will update the 2021 legislative tracker in real time whenever things change.

You can look up your legislative district and contact information for your legislators here. Legislators respond best when we are respectful and appreciative, and when we are clear about what we are asking them to vote for or against. If you're emailing a legislator, include the bill number and title in the subject of the email, and include your address and contact information in your signature.

HB209 - Vehicle Registration Fee Revisions- oppose

This bill increases fees for all-electric vehicles to $300 per year (from $120), plug-in vehicles to $260 per year (from $52), and hybrid fees to $50 per year (from $20). Vehicle owners would still have the option to opt in to the mileage-based road usage fee of 1.5 cents per mile. For many electric vehicle owners, the mileage-based fee would become the lower cost option.

Action alert! This bill is currently on the House Reading Calendar and will come up for a House vote soon. Now is the time to call or text your House members to ask them to vote no.

Talking points:

  • The average electric vehicle provides around $10,000 worth of air quality benefits over its lifetime (study). We should not be disincentivizing Utah citizens from purchasing electric vehicles by raising registration fees.

  • Electric vehicles are a tiny fraction of the vehicles on the road today (less than 2% of new car sales). Raising registration fees on them generates almost no revenue. It just disincentivizes new buyers.

  • No vehicles on the road in Utah are currently "paying their fair share." The gas tax is supposed to pay for the road fund, but it doesn't come close. The $600 million shortfall is made up by sales taxes (which are also regressive).

  • If the legislature wants to move to the public to the mileage-based road fee, then it should just go ahead and do that now for all vehicles instead of treating clean vehicles differently, and it should set the fees high enough to fully pay for the roads.

Representatives Ray Ward and Suzanne Harrison, Clean Air Caucus co-chairs:

HB017 - Utility Permitting Amendments (Handy) - oppose

This bill would preemptively ban municipalities from requiring cleaner energy sources in new construction, such as electric heat, electric water heaters, etc. instead of natural gas fired appliances. Natural gas bans for new construction are proliferating around the country, and the gas industry is backing laws like this in many states. Building electrification eliminates criteria pollutant emissions, and when combined with clean electricity generation it also eliminates greenhouse gas emissions.

Action alert! This bill has passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee. Constituents of committee members should call or text their Senators and ask them to oppose this bill. Committee members are: Winterton, Kitchen, Mayne, McKell, Millner, Owens, and Stevenson. Contact information for committee members can be found here.

Talking Points:

  • This bill undermines local efforts to reduce emissions, and entrenches a utility monopoly.

  • All-electric buildings with heat pumps are practical and affordable, even in cold climates like Utah. Contractors and builders are much more familiar with gas appliances and will default to what they know.

  • The Utah League of Cities and Towns opposes the bill.

  • The legislature should be encouraging municipalities to experiment with policies to clean our air, not restricting them.

HB263 - Utah Clean Energy Fund (Briscoe)

Representative Briscoe's Clean Energy Fund legislation has been introduced! It creates a non-profit fund to provide low-interest financing to clean energy and energy efficiency projects in Utah. It leverages private and public capital to support solar, EV, wind, energy efficiency, and other projects that have the benefit of cleaner air and a healthy climate. Clean energy projects tend to have high upfront costs and low to zero operating costs, so their financial viability is heavily dependent on interest rates.

Neighboring states such as Nevada and Colorado have formed similar clean energy funds to accelerate the transition to clean technologies. HB263 has not yet been assigned to a committee. Stay tuned.

HB145 - Clean and Renewable Energy Requirement Amendments (Ward)

This bill updates Utah's renewable energy goals and sets a standard for large utilities (primarily Rocky Mountain Power) to reach 50% of generation from solar wind, hydro, geothermal, and nuclear by 2030 as long as it is cost-effective to do so. The state's current target is 20% of generation by 2025. We are currently at 18% statewide and we should easily meet the 2025 target.

HB145 has been assigned to the House Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Committee, but no hearing has been scheduled yet.

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