A new roadmap to speed the spread of electric vehicles in Washington state

When it comes to meeting Washington’s ambitious electric vehicle goals, bolder cash incentives and charging outlets in thousands more locations are needed now.

Rules pushing drivers to forgo cars and trucks that run on gas for ones powered by batteries are needed soon.

And an aggressive outreach and education campaign must be sustained if the state hopes to expand electric vehicle ownership and slash vehicle emissions statewide.

Those are the major prongs of a forthcoming report that’s intended to provide the state with a blueprint for getting more electric vehicles on its roads.

A public draft of the Transportation Electrification Strategy is expected as early as today, with a public hearing planned for Oct. 11. The Electric Vehicle Coordinating Council, with members from multiple state entities, including the departments of Transportation, Ecology and Commerce, is preparing it.

A majority of recommendations will be geared toward accelerating the transition to battery powered cars, trucks, buses and big rigs.

Expect calls for making car and truck incentives more generous, offering them on a wider range of models, and providing some rebates upfront.

Ensuring all residents can access charging easily underpins several ideas. These include requiring outlets for plugging in vehicles in new construction of multi-family developments, installing them in public light poles, and providing hook-ups for trucks and big rigs at ports and other industrial areas.

Allowing consumers to buy directly from automakers, rather than through dealerships, may be suggested. Currently, only Tesla can sell directly to customers in Washington, according to the staff of RMI, the consultancy hired to assemble the document.

An earlier report from the consultants emphasized that “the state can no longer leave any policy option untapped to increase EV adoption.”

Another set of recommendations under consideration is designed to further drive down emissions from the transportation sector, which account for 39% of all emissions in Washington.

Several of these proposals target medium- and heavy-duty trucks, many of which run on diesel. Ideas include enacting an anti-idling law and offering financial incentives for companies to scrap old heavy-duty vehicles and construction machinery and go electric.

No time to waste

The Move Ahead Washington transportation package passed last year set a target that all passenger cars and light duty vehicles “sold, purchased or registered in Washington” be electric starting with the model year 2030.

Even with the electrification strategy, the state is unlikely to meet the goal.

Sales of electric vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, are climbing but remain a tiny portion of cars on the road. Washington had about 8 million registered vehicles on Aug. 31 of which 150,482, roughly 1.9%, ran fully or partially on battery power, according to Department of Licensing data.

Meanwhile, an RMI analysis found the state will need to build around 1.3 million charging ports by 2030, increasing to 3 million by 2035. Accomplishing that requires putting more money into the effort and speeding up the distribution of those funds, consultants said.

Switching to battery-powered vehicles quickly is critical to the state achieving a second ambitious goal – shaving the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions by 45% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Washington spewed 102.1 million metric tons of emissions in 2019, the last fully reported year. To meet its target, the state needs to be down to around 50 million by the start of the next decade.

Charging ahead

A preliminary draft of the electrification strategy circulated earlier this month by consultants contains 41 pages of recommendations. They were compiled through research, modeling and eight months of meetings involving the EV Council, the state’s Electric Vehicle Advisory Council, and community leaders.

To reach the vehicle sales goal by 2030, the state needs to get new EV owners across all incomes and in all communities, the consultants said.

But steps like offering better incentives and installing charging stations will only be valuable if the public knows what’s available and where. Several recommendations focus on getting out information.

The coordinating council suggests creating a new clearinghouse with information on how to access electric vehicle incentives, grants, and programs offered by governments, utilities, and community organizations.

And the EV council backs providing funds to community-based organizations to disseminate information on electrification efforts in rural and minority communities.

Cars buyers are going to get a lot of attention in the report.

Requiring dealerships to post available electric vehicle tax credit and incentive information for each model, and to provide it upon request to potential buyers is an idea. This would require a new law.

A “social leasing program,” where EVs can be leased by individuals below an income threshold for an affordable monthly rate, is in the works at Commerce and should be deployed, consultants said.

To make charging affordable to all, the state should allow electronic food assistance benefit cards to also be used to charge at discounted rates.

Not everything in the report is about cars.

The preliminary report backs enabling communities to add EV chargers at public light poles as long as they don’t impede pedestrians or become visual obstacles.

And it calls for beefing up technician training programs to ensure an adequate supply of workers capable of installing and fixing charging ports at homes, offices and throughout communities.

A final section looks at planning now for even bolder steps in a couple years.

“Washington has made tremendous strides in recent years” to establish itself in the fight to protect the planet, consultants wrote in an early draft. “Yet, as the [Transportation Electrification Modeling] has made clear, Washington must do even more.”

by Jerry Cornfield, Washington State Standard

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia for questions: info@washingtonstatestandard.com. Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and Twitter.

  1. One of the main reasons I’m not comfortable buying an electric car yet is the infrastructure needs to increase statewide and regionally. I like the appeal. I’m excited for the future of this, however with a family of small children and the road trips we like to go on, I cannot fathom having to search for a charging place and then sitting in the car with my toddlers until the car is able to continue driving. Unless it’s as quick as gassing up and spots are easy as gas stations to find!

    Then upgrading my home utilities to support EV, I wonder what the cost of that electrical work is and the increase of the energy consumption. Then there’s an annual battery tax that EV owners have to pay on tabs which was a surprise I just learned. I hope that when we are able to afford a new car in the next few years I’ll get a Hybrid but not sure I would be comfortable with a full EV. Maybe, I’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quick advancement of technology and implementation of infrastructure!

  2. Try a trip to Portland from Edmonds, and see if you can find a quick charge that is in anyway easy and convenient.
    we are not ready by at least 2 years yet. I owned a Nissen Leaf that was wonderful for 2 years but I couldn’t even get to Bellingham without having to problem solve first. I went back to a hybrid that I loved for the previous 10 years.
    Also it is wise to remember that in the winter using your lights sooner, cars seat warmer, radio, window wipers and rear wipers and seat warmer(s) you have less mileage with an electric car than the 240 range going down to 198 in some cases that I experienced. That information is not provided when you buy the car new.

  3. A lot of blather about how we are going to to convert our economy over to electric power, but not a word about where that extra power is coming from. Remember Satsop?

  4. A full explanation of where the extra power comes from is provided in Saul Griffith’s book, Electrify. Griffith provides the same data that the US Department of Energy is working off of.

  5. I love our Kia Niro EV. It’s been fun learning new traveling habits and figuring out the best way to charge it and keep a schedule. One thing I understand much better now is that some EVs have much faster charging rates that make a charging stop a lot quicker. A recent 700+ mile college campus tour through Oregon with my daughter was definitely a little complicated by the lack of charging infrastructure. (Tesla is better with that but I just didn’t want to go there.) On our trip, we were on a pretty demanding schedule and I had to be careful to allot enough time for charging and getting to our next destination. There were some frustrating times, but I’m optimistic that it will improve rapidly. There are great apps to find charging locations, and those are getting better. Mostly we use the EV in the Puget Sound region and it is awesome. We plug it in overnight every 3-10 days depending on how much we drive. I would highly recommend an EV to anyone car shopping. We’ve enjoyed learning a new way to drive, and we feel good about reducing our car emissions.

  6. My question is where do the proponents of BEV vehicles imagine the electricity and transmission infrastructure for going “all electric battery” is going to come from ? It sure isn’t going to come from windmills and solar panels. Unless there is a push to start building nuclear power plants by the hundreds and completely rebuild the transmission infrastructure, the concept of going all in on BEV’s is nothing but another government controlled and climate cult promoted “Rube Goldberg” adventure.
    BTW: the state mandate on new vehicles in this state being all “electric” starting 6 years from now ,ain’t gonna happen, and that is the reality.

  7. “Green energy” is creating the next environmental disaster. The earth is being decimated in remote areas in mining rare earth minerals, batteries that aren’t recycled filling landfills, and the enormous amounts of electricity needed for this fiasco. If they are so wonderful, then why does government have to use our tax dollars to prop up the market? Wind turbines that are in constant need of repair and not a single piece recyclable and creates sound the human ear cannot hear, yet does irreparable damage to internal organs within a six kilometer radius. As long as we focus on the easy alternative to carbon fuel, then the long, hard work of finding a better alternative will never be found. And part of that alternative is already available in nuclear power which has come up with a better product than the days of three mile island, or Chernobyl. In the meantime, if you truly want to help the environment, then stop trading in your perfectly good auto for a new model every few years. In fact, stop consuming the junk that is filling the storage buildings and our landfills. Why don’t our elected officials and tax paid bureaucrats have a proposal to discourage waste?

    1. Elected officials and tax paid bureaucrats hype it up and draw upon fear to get the followers to open their wallets to fund their nonsense.

  8. I see Edmonds, where all the really rich and beautiful people live; money is no object; and there’s never a bad day – only an Edmonds kind of day; will soon have it’s very own Climate Change Administrator. This will only cost us a mere $143,000 per year; a real steal when you consider our new Professional Grant Administrator is going to cost us another $183.000 per year. Finally our air will be pristine, the planet will be saved, we will all be riding in self driving electric transport pods and money will flow into our city coffers like never before. Yes, our future looks bright!

    1. Yes Clinton, we know Edmonds is awash in cash when it is deemed needed to have a climate cult administrator whose job it will be to usurp ever more of our personal choices and freedoms on the premise of “saving the planet”. How about not spending on the unnecessary and also how about putting the”Grant Administrator” on a “commission” basis who will be paid a percentage of grants secured ? That’s how it works in the private sector.

  9. The only thing Green about Green Energy are the buckos($$$$$$$$$$$) being filtered to very few elite pockets of the Green Corporate Cabals. Many of the Green companies go bankrupt…like Solyndra (bankrupt), green bus companies going bankrupt like https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2023/aug/8/electric-bus-maker-once-touted-biden-files-bankrup/

    It has nothing to with saving the planet…only accumulating more Green $$$$$$$$$$$ for the few elites while everyone else goes broke.

    The planet and climate are worth saving, but only in a common sense way!

    And Edmonds does not need a Climate commissar…would be a waste of taxpayer dollars

    …Just sayin’

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