Reintroduced Pennsylvania bill would increase electric-powered truck weight

February 10, 2021

Keith Goble

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A renewed effort at the Pennsylvania statehouse would adopt a federal weight exemption for electric-powered trucks in place in the majority of states.

Currently, the state of Pennsylvania authorizes electric-powered trucks to weigh up to 80,000 pounds.

Following the feds

Senate Transportation Chairman Wayne Langerholc, R-Richland, has reintroduced a bill to put into statute the federal rule on electric battery-powered trucks. Specifically, SB153 would increase the maximum gross vehicle weight for commercial vehicles powered by electric battery power by 2,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.

Passed by Congress in 2015, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act raised the weight limit for natural gas and electric battery-powered tractor-trailers to 82,000 pounds. The rule authorizes states to raise the weight limit on interstates within their borders.

Pennsylvania law already authorizes the weight allowance for trucks powered by natural gas.

During the 2020 regular session, state House and Senate lawmakers approved different versions of the bill. Time ran out on the session before legislators were able to work out their differences in the bill.

Change billed as ‘necessary’

Advocates say the weight allowance is necessary because heavier equipment is required to power trucks operating on electric battery power and natural gas.

Langerholc wrote in a memo to legislators that “heavy-duty electric tractor-trailers that run at full weight capacity weigh closer to 82,000 pounds simply due to the weight of the necessary equipment needed to make the engine and system work.”

Natural Gas Vehicles for America has reported that more than half of all states have adopted the gross vehicle weight rating provision.

Added language removed

The 2020 version was ultimately derailed because of a House change made to the bill intended to ensure that more vehicle owners pay for the roads they use.

The provision authorized the state to collect an additional fee for the registration and renewed registration of electric vehicles and vehicles that use a combination of fuel and electric power, or hybrids. Commercial vehicle owners were excluded.

SB153 will start in the Senate Transportation Committee. As introduced, there is no language in the bill to collect additional fees on electric and hybrid vehicle owners. LL

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Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.