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Lawmakers push green tax credit for buying hybrids

Lawmakers want to green your ride.

Four Charleston County House members have teamed up to support a bill that would give drivers a $2,000 income tax credit off for the purchase or lease of a plug-in hybrid vehicle from a South Carolina dealership, extending tax breaks that expired this year and making the credits available to more people.

Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Daniel Island, said his bill would provide $500,000 in tax breaks on a first-come, first-served basis, up from $200,000 that was carved out by the legislature. The credit was available for 2008, 2009 and 2010.

"I think our ongoing dependence on oil gets a little tiresome," Merrill said. "It seems like every time the folks in the Middle East get us over a barrel, interest in alternative fuels goes up and energy costs skyrocket."

More demand for the green vehicles could help advance technology, Merrill said.

Charleston Republican Rep. Chip Limehouse traded in his GMC Yukon Hybrid temporarily Thursday to take an electric Chevrolet Volt for a spin around the Statehouse to build support for the bill. The car was on loan from Rick Hendrick Chevrolet of Charleston on Savannah Highway in West Ashley driven to Columbia by Chad Petrey of Mount Pleasant.

"This is about the future," Limehouse said.

Charleston Reps. Leon Stavrinakis, a Democrat, and Peter McCoy, a Republican, have signed on the bill as co-sponsors.