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EV car at charger

Washington State lawmakers are considering numerous approaches that tackle climate change in the current legislative session. (See our previous blog posts on carbon pricing and low-carbon fuels.) Among the proposals on the table are policies to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by households, businesses and government agencies.

Current Washington EV Policies

The Washington Department of Transportation has developed a 2015-2020 EV Action Plan, which identifies 13 action items to increase EV adoption, including completion of a fast-charging network along highways and electrifying public and private fleets. This 2015 action plan aims Washington State toward the goal of placing 50,000 EVs on the road by 2020 (we are almost halfway there). Washington State also offers a sales tax exemption for the purchase of new EV vehicles, which is soon to expire (more on this later).

States with existing plans to expand electric vehicles on-the-road:

State Current EV Totals EV Cumulative Goal Goal Deadline
Washington 24,624 50,000 2020
Rhode Island 421* 43,596 2025
Vermont 943* 34,896 2025
Connecticut 2,957* 155,105 2025
Maryland 5,000* 299,392 2025
Massachusetts 5,475* 303,814 2025
Oregon 11,400 50,000* 2025
New York 12,000* 851,855 2025
California 258,000* 5,000,000** 2030

*Reported totals for 2015
**On January 26, 2018, Governor Brown announced an
executive order that would increase California’s goal of 1.5 million EVs by 2025 to 5 million EVs by 2030.


What’s proposed for Washington?
Washington can learn from Kansas City by enlisting utilities as partners. In 2015, Kansas City Power and Light chose to install over 1,000 EV charging stations, becoming the first investor-owned electric utility in the nation to install and operate its own charging network. As a result, EV adoption has already nearly doubled since the network was launched. In 2015, the Washington State legislature moved in this direction by enabling investor-owned utilities to spend a limited amount of taxpayer money on charging infrastructure.  This move was guided by a Policy Report from the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), which regulates investor-owned utilities.   The policy report was completed in 2017, and lays out some of the ground rules.  It is one of the most forward-thinking and comprehensive policy statements regarding EV infrastructure in the nation, and also sets the stage for more in-depth discussions about EV adoption.  A simple step this session would be to pass HB 2897, which would allow our smaller consumer-owned utilities to join the investor owned utilities in developing transportation plans and investing in infrastructure to electrify transportation. Here are a few other EV concepts on the table:

  • Extend the sales tax break for EVs (which is currently set to expire in early 2018)
  • Initiate higher quotas for state fleets and statewide EV goals
  • Offer cost-sharing incentives and/or mandates for electrification of public transportation
  • Ensure availability of EV-ready parking near affordable housing, multifamily housing, and commercial buildings

Below, we’ve compiled a brief table comparison of the four bills we consider most relevant. You can download a PDF here.

If you have further questions, or would like some follow up information, please contact Megan Conaway at megan@carbonwa.org. And if you have a blog idea or would like to be a featured guest author, please email us to get started.

EV Bills at a Glance