The State of Washington will be conducting a full-scale analysis of the feasibility of converting city, county, state, and public transit vehicles to electric vehicles. The bill, ESHB 1160, passed the Senate and House in April, and Governor Jay Inslee signed it today.
The bill is a response to a 2018 analysis by the non-profit Coltura that found that state and local governments are in violation of Washington’s existing fleet electrification law, RCW 43.19.648, which already requires Washington state stop buying new gasoline vehicles “to the extent practicable. Coltura's mission is to accelerate the switch from gasoline vehicles to zero-emission alternatives.
The bill directs $450,000 toward the creation of a detailed analysis of how Washington’s state, county, city, and public transit agencies can cease buying new gasoline and diesel vehicles by as early as 2025.
The existing electrification law is difficult to follow because of lack of funding, said Matthew Metz, Coltura co-executive director. The study hopes to address the “how” of converting to electric vehicles. He emphasizes that there are financing mechanisms out there, including a green energy fund being developed by the state.
The existing law also does not include details about enforcement, which is one reason public entities have not complied.
The study will include the projected costs for public fleets in Washington to achieve substantial conversion to electric fleets by 2025, 2030, and 2035, as well as analysis of the financing mechanisms available to public agencies to transition to EVs. It will be completed by Sept. 30, 2020.
The lead sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jake Fey, said the bill “will benefit taxpayers and the environment by charting the path to electric vehicles becoming widespread in government.”
Coltura is conducting a follow-up to its 2018 study, and Metz said the data he has so far shows the City of Seattle continues to be the leader in fleet electrification in the state. More than one-third of the city’s passenger fleet is electric, and about 7% of its vehicles are electric.
“In general, the attitude on climate-related things are really picking up. Yesterday there was a big rally. We got a lot done in the legislature this year. In the same bill, there is a little bit of financing to make charging easier,” Metz said. “There is definitely a lot of momentum right now in the state to act on climate.”