May 18, 2022
Tybee beaches go smoke-free
As of June 1, smokers will no longer be able to light up on the beach at Tybee. That goes for vapers, too. The Tybee City Council passed its ban on beach smoking last week. Tybee is the first beach in Georgia to stub out smoking. Beach patrollers will issue warnings to smokers for the first three weeks of June, then a $300 fine goes into effect. The ban extends to the pier and the beach crossovers in an effort to reduce smoking-related litter.
Electric public transit
Chatham Area Transit, the public transportation service in Chatham County, added six electric buses to its fleet last month. Like electric cars, the buses’ upfront cost is higher than that of the vehicles they replace, mostly diesel in the case of buses. But like other electric vehicles, the buses are cheaper to run in the long term. They have no oil to change and electricity gives better buzz for the buck than diesel or gasoline. Passengers will appreciate the quiet ride. Other drivers, along with pedestrians and bicyclists, will love that nothing is belching out the back. The climate should appreciate that, too.
No matter where you live in Georgia, your primary ballot will include two Public Service Commission races. The PSC is a five-member board that’s elected for six-year terms on a rotating basis. Among its biggest job is regulating Georgia Power, the electric utility that is billions over budget and years behind schedule on the addition of two nuclear reactors to Plant Vogtle. The PSC seats are numbered and the candidate must live in their geographical district, but they are elected by voters statewide. An ongoing lawsuit is challenging this process, alleging it disenfranchises Black voters.
All five current commissioners are Republicans. With seats number 2 and 3 up for grabs, incumbents Tim Echols and Fitz Johnson (who Brian Kemp appointed to his seat in July 2021) are running unopposed in the Republican primary.
The EV situation in Georgia
Georgia looks like a great place to build electric vehicles. Hyundai is eyeing the Bryan County megasite off I-16 for its new electric vehicle factory. In December Rivian announced it was ready to locate its new assembly plant at the East Atlanta Megasite near Social Circle.
But the Peach State isn’t such a great place to buy or own an electric vehicle. Georgia charges its EV drivers a $213 annual registration fee, among the highest in the nation. It’s meant as a substitute for gasoline tax, but the flat tax doesn’t account for miles driven. It’s more than more than the state gasoline tax paid by a 25-mpg gasoline vehicle driven 15,000 miles a year, Green Car reports calculated.
When that EV fee was first imposed in 2016, the legislature also removed the $5,000 state tax credit in place for buying or leasing a new electric vehicle. Many other states still offer a state tax credit. The federal tax credit of $7,500 is also still in place for most EV models.
But you many not be able to find an EV to buy in Coastal Georgia. They’re in short supply generally and, according to cars.com, “automakers often limit the sale of certain vehicles to states that have enacted specific emissions laws.” That’s not Georgia.
A Current update: Divisive monument moves on
The Confederate monument has been removed from Brunswick’s Hanover Square nearly two years after the City Council’s first attempt to take it down. Read the story and see Mayor Cosby Johnson’s comments on the historic moment.
An item in last week’s newsletter regarding Plant Vogtle’s price tag was incorrect. The cost of the Vogtle nuclear expansion is 30 times greater than the $1 billion cost of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.
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In 2015, Georgia replaced its EV tax credit with an annual fee to cover the gas taxes electric car drivers aren’t paying. Similarly, it’s not the friendliest state for rooftop solar, even though solar technology is made here. And the state has no emissions reduction targets.
More storms, from the Atlantic and the Gulf, prompt cities, homeowners to defend critical infrastructure.
For almost two years, as Brunswick and Glynn County came to grips with the racially motivated murder of Ahmaud Arbery, local organizations have been lobbying to remove the stark reminder of Coastal Georgia’s legacy of white supremacy and slavery.
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