Thinking beyond the gas tax, Utah launches fee per miles driven for alternative-fuel cars

Utah is about to launch a new way to raise money for highways that someday may replace gas taxes.

On Jan. 1, the state will become the second, after Oregon, to begin a high-tech “road user charge” program — in which volunteers will pay a fee for every mile they drive, measured by a transponder and paid automatically from a customer account connected to a credit card.

For now, it’s available just to owners of the 51,000 electric and hybrid vehicles registered in the state. They have an incentive to volunteer: It may lower, and will definitely not raise, the special registration fees the state recently started charging them because they largely escape the gasoline tax.