Wyoming Backs Off Tax That Would Have Shut Down Many EV Charging Stations

The CEO of an electric charging station company said a proposed tax on Level 2 charging stations would have likely led to most of them closing. He said a draft bill will likely produce good outcomes.

September 05, 20234 min read

A new Level 3 Electrify America charging station in Cheyenne. While the company is building more of the top-level charging stations around Wyoming, most of its EV chargers are Level 2.
A new Level 3 Electrify America charging station in Cheyenne. While the company is building more of the top-level charging stations around Wyoming, most of its EV chargers are Level 2. (Greg Johnson, Cowboy State Daily)

Much to the relief of those who operate Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations, a draft bill backed off of a tax and annual licensing fee that would have put them out of business. 

Level 2 chargers are a step up from a standard residential plug but are slower to charge than the Level 3 DC fast chargers, such as the Tesla Supercharger stations. 

After debating the draft last week, the Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee amended the legislation so that the new tax would only apply to Level 3 chargers. 

“The original draft that they had was going to be pretty rough,” Patrick Lawson, CEO of Wild West EV, told Cowboy State Daily. 

By The Numbers

The Wyoming Department of Transportation depends on liquid fuel taxes to support operations and road maintenance. This means that electric vehicles aren’t supporting the roads they use through any taxes on gasoline. 

Electric vehicle owners pay a $200 registration fee in lieu of those taxes. The problem for Wyoming is that out-of-state EV drivers aren’t paying the registration fee. So, they’re using Wyoming highways for free without compensating the state for the wear and tear they put on them.

As of May 31, there were 739 EVs registered in the state of Wyoming, and of those 520 are made by Tesla. Eight of them are four-wheelers, and 11 are motorcycles. 

Another 1,325 hybrids — meaning they run on gas and battery power — are registered in the state, with four of those being four-wheelers. 

Should the draft bill get introduced in the next legislative session and ultimately pass into the law, operators of Level 3 stations will pay 4 cents per kilowatt-hour sold. 

Marginal Profits

Under the original draft, operators of metered Level 2 stations would have paid a 3-cent tax, but unmetered stations would have paid an annual fee of $746.  

In his testimony to the committee, Lawson said that Wild West EV began installing charging stations 10 years ago, and it currently operates 10 stations around central Wyoming. All the company’s stations are Level 2. 

Many of these stations are connected to businesses, and so it’s a shared service with the host. For example, the company operates a station in Riverton at The Breadboard, a sandwich restaurant. 

When Wild West EV began installing them, there were no viable options to put in smart meters, Lawson said, which would measure the amount of power the station used. He said it took six years to make their money back for the stations. 

Last year, the company had 525 charging sessions, and the sessions go up 40% every year, Lawson said. 

He said the proposed 3 cents per kilowatt-hour tax or annual fee would have made the business unworkable. 

“I think the end result is that most people will just remove them,” Lawson said. 

Kind Of Surprised

The committee agreed to forgo the taxes and fees on Level 2 chargers in favor of a 4-cent tax on Level 3 chargers. 

In an interview, Lawson said he was worried how the committee would handle the EV tax revenue issue. 

After the Legislature considered a resolution to phase out the sale of electric vehicles in the last legislative session, he said he wasn’t sure the committee would consider impacts.

The amendments, Lawson said, are workable. 

“Overall, I’m really impressed with how it was handled and actually kind of surprised. I think it was the best possible outcome,” he said. 

Superchargers Galore

For Wyoming EV drivers, the taxes on public charging stations won’t likely impact them.

Cheyenne resident TJ Doan drives a Tesla and uses it to drive for Uber. He said 99% of the time, he just uses his Level 2 home charger, and that’s the case with most of his other EV-driving friends. 

As a Tesla owner, he has access to the Tesla Superchargers. If the tax should pass, those would charge 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, but most of the traffic to those stations are out-of-state drivers.

Chris Riley with Tesla’s policy team testified at the committee that there are 11 of these stations in the state, with a total of 72 charging ports. 

Among the concerns raised over the proposed taxes was the potential to discourage investment in new stations. Doan said, for those times he goes on a road trip in his Tesla, there are no problems finding stations. 

“There’s superchargers galore,” he said.

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