Washington state lawmakers go big on EV charging, cut short-term discounts

(Flickr Creative Commons photo / Ivan Radic)

If you were counting on generous rebates from Washington State to help cover the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle, you’re probably out of luck — at least for now.

The legislature wrapped up its 2022 session late Thursday night without approving a generous package of EV rebates proposed by Governor Jay Inslee.

However, it did approve $25 million for EV discounts starting later this year targeting what it calls “congested communities.” And another $95 million has been set aside to help consumers buy EVs, but it won’t come into play until the middle of next year and the terms of the program have not yet been defined.

Legislators have taken other steps to accelerate the transition to electrification.

“Our fundamental policy choice this year has been to focus on charging infrastructure,” said D-Seattle Senator Reuven Carlyle.

Legislative EV action included:

$69.5 million to develop electric car charging infrastructure in Washington for rural areas, multi-family homes, office buildings, schools and other public locations; $3 million for state-owned charging infrastructure; $8.5 million to map and forecast an EV charging infrastructure plan; and a bill that prevents homeowner associations from restricting the installation of EV charging hardware.

The state also approved the country’s most ambitious goal for electric vehicle adoption. By 2030, all publicly and privately owned light vehicles — including cars, SUVs and some pickup trucks — sold, purchased or registered in Washington must be electric. California, which has the highest rate of EV adoption in the US, has a target for 2035.

“It’s important to push the legislature to say we have these goals,” said Leah Missik, the transportation policy manager in Washington at Climate Solutions, an advocacy group.

The state is also committed to following the zero-emission vehicle standards set by California, which will impact the EV transition and have more regulatory teeth, Missik added.

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Rising gas prices are making some consumers eager to switch to electric vehicles, but vehicle inventory is currently low and the cost of many vehicles could make them out of reach. Drivers can still take advantage of a partial state tax exemption for new and used EVs and up to $7,500 in federal income tax credits for new vehicles.

In December, Inslee asked lawmakers to approve discounts for the purchase of new and used EVs, with greater benefits for low-income consumers. A household earning $61,000 or less annually can claim $12,500 to help pay for a new EV priced less than $55,000. High earners were excluded from the deal.

“We will continue to work with legislators on ways to [rebates] established and implemented in the future biennia,” Inslee spokesperson Mike Faulk said by email.

Other climate-related programs receiving funding:

electrification of the state’s ferry system, including $1.3 billion for four new hybrid-electric ships; bicycle and pedestrian transport; community solar and battery systems; energy efficiency upgrades for low-income homes; and development of the state’s clean hydrogen sector.

Some of these initiatives are part of the massive $17 billion 16-year transportation package that was approved Thursday.

A notable miss on the EV front, Missick said, was failure to fund the move to electrically powered large vehicles, such as port vehicles, semis, garbage trucks, school buses and transit buses.

Replacing diesel-powered port vehicles – essentially semi-finished products used to move cargo over short distances, such as from ships to trains – could have a significant impact. The trucks are old, very polluting and intensively used.

“The emergency of the climate crisis demands a lot [of investing] and it requires a lot every year,” Missick said. “We still have a way to go.”

This post Washington state lawmakers go big on EV charging, cut short-term discounts

was original published at “https://www.geekwire.com/2022/washington-state-lawmakers-go-big-on-ev-battery-charging-scale-back-near-term-rebates/”