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Washington State News

$71M Washington Draft Plan for EV Charging Open for Public Review

(The Center Square) – Through July 15, the public can review and comment on a draft of the Washington State Plan for Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment. Feedback can be sent to Partnerships@wsdot.wa.gov.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is also offering a public survey on electric vehicle charging needs, which closes on July 18.

The state plan is part of the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program authorized as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden last year.

The program provides funding to states to deploy electric vehicle charging infrastructure and to establish an interconnected network to facilitate data collection, access, and reliability.

The Evergreen State’s share of the federal funds is $71 million over five years, including $10.5 million for the first year.

“Washington State expects to invest about $71 million from this program over five years, along with a 20% non-federal match of $17.75 million,” reads the draft report’s introduction. “Washington will finalize and submit this document by August 1, 2022, for eligibility for federal funding.”

Washington is moving full speed ahead on electric vehicles.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5974 into law, establishing a goal of banning most gasoline-powered vehicles in Washington state within the next eight years as part of fighting climate change.

This effort is part of the spending bill for the $16.9 billion transportation package dubbed “Move Ahead Washington.” The applicable section reads, “A target is established for the state that all publicly owned and privately owned passenger and light duty vehicles of model year 2030 or later that are sold, purchased, or registered in Washington state be electric vehicles.”

SB 5974 calls for an “interagency electric vehicle coordinating council” created by the new law that is directed to “complete a scoping plan for achieving the 2030 target.” The scoping plan is to be completed on or before Dec. 31, 2023.

Not everyone believes state government should be so heavy-handed.

“The best approach would be to let the market decide,” Baruch Feigenbaum, senior managing director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, told The Center Square in April. “The electric car industry has grown substantially over the last 3 years and if you have the money (again not me) you can buy an electric car that is faster, quieter, and cheaper to operate than a conventionally-powered vehicle.”

He pointed out the limited driving range of electric vehicles at the moment, as well as the complication of locating charging stations.

“Charging stations are a problem,” he said. “There are several policies designed to increase charging stations, but I’m skeptical we will have enough stations in eight years for long-distance trips.”

Feigenbaum believes attempts by government to impose a green economy on Washington residents will do more harm than good.

“And I think the benefits to the environment are exaggerated because people will hold onto their older cars with higher greenhouse gas emissions longer,” Feigenbaum said.

Those most impacted by any sort of government pressure to switch to an electric vehicle, he added, would be middle- and working-class Washington residents.

“Many would be forced to buy used cars powered by combustion engines, and many folks would have to buy older used cars powered by combustion engines,” he said. “In that scenario I see very little greenhouse gas emission reductions. It would be another cash for clunkers program where the used vehicles wound up in Mexico where they produced just as many greenhouse gas emissions than if they were in the U.S.”