Electricity Laws and Incentives in Washington
The list below contains summaries of all Washington laws and incentives related to electricity.
Alternative Fuel Commercial Vehicle and Fueling Infrastructure Tax Credit
Businesses are eligible to receive tax credits for purchasing new alternative fuel commercial vehicles and installing alternative fueling infrastructure. Eligible alternative fuels are natural gas, propane, hydrogen, dimethyl ether, and electricity. Tax credits for qualified alternative fueling infrastructure are for up to 50% of the cost to purchase and install the infrastructure. Commercial vehicle tax credit amounts vary based on gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and are up to 75% of the incremental cost, with maximum credit values as follows:
|GVWR||January 1, 2018 to January 1, 2021|
|Up to 14,000 pounds (lbs.)||$25,000|
|14,001 to 26,500 lbs.||$50,000|
|Over 26,500 lbs.||$100,000|
This exemption also applies to qualified used vehicles modified with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified aftermarket conversion, as long as the vehicle is being sold for the first time after modification. Modified vehicles are eligible for credits equal to 50% of the commercial vehicle conversion cost, up to $25,000.
Each entity may claim up to $250,000 or credits for 25 vehicles per year. Credits may be earned between January 1, 2016, and January 1, 2021. All credits earned must be used in that calendar year or the subsequent year. Tax credits are available on a first-in-time basis and are subject to annual limits of $2 million for vehicle credits, and $6 million for infrastructure. The maximum total funding that can be provided for the tax credits is $32.5 million.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) and Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Emissions Inspection Exemption
Dedicated electric, natural gas, and propane vehicles are exempt from state emissions control inspections. HEVs that obtain a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy rating of at least 50 miles per gallon during city driving are also exempt from these inspections. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 46.16A.060)
Alternative Fueling Infrastructure Funding Program
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has developed a pilot funding program to strengthen and expand the West Coast Electric Highway network by deploying direct current (DC) fast charging infrastructure along highway corridors in Washington. The pilot program ends June 30, 2019.Effective August 1, 2019, the funding program expands to include hydrogen fueling infrastructure along highway corridors in Washington.For more information, see the WSDOT's Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure website. (Reference House Bill 2042, 2019, and Revised Code of Washington 47.04.350)
Green Transportation Grant Program
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will establish a green transportation capital grant program to fund projects to reduce the carbon intensity of the Washington transportation system, including fleet electrification, modification or replacement of facilities to facilitate fleet electrification and hydrogen fueling, upgrades to electrical transmission and distribution systems, and construction of charging and fueling infrastructure. In order to receive funding for a project, a transit authority must provide matching funding for that project that is at least equal to 20% of the total cost of the project. (Reference House Bill 2042, 2019, and Revised Code of Washington 47.66)
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) Infrastructure and Battery Tax
Public lands used for installing, maintaining, and operating PEV infrastructure are exempt from leasehold excise taxes until January 1, 2020. Additionally, the state sales and use taxes do not apply through July 1, 2025 to PEV and FCEV batteries or fuel cells; labor and services for installing, repairing, altering, or improving PEV and FCEV batteries or fuel cells and PEV and hydrogen fueling infrastructure; the sale of property used for PEV and hydrogen fueling infrastructure, and the sale of zero emission buses. (Reference House Bill 2042, 2019, and Revised Code of Washington 82.29A.125, 82.08.816, 82.12.816, and 82.08.020)
Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging Regulation Exemption
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission) may not regulate the rates, services, facilities, or practices of an entity that offers battery charging facilities to the public for hire. The exemption does not apply if the entity is otherwise subject to Commission jurisdiction as an electrical company, or if an entity's battery charging facilities and services are subsidized by any regulated service. A utility may offer battery charging facilities as a regulated service, subject to Commission approval. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 80.28.320)
Retail Sales Tax Exemption
The retail sales tax of 6.5% does not apply to the sale or lease of new or used passenger vehicles, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles that are exclusively powered by an alternative vehicle fuel or are capable of running solely on electricity for at least 30 miles. Eligible alternative fuels are natural gas, propane, hydrogen, and electricity. Vehicles must not have a selling price plus trade-in property value that exceeds $45,000 for new vehicles and $30,000 for used vehicles. The maximum eligible amount for used purchased or leased vehicles is $16,000. The maximum eligible amounts for new purchased or leased vehicles are as follows:
|Through July 31, 2021||$25,000|
|August 1, 2021 – July 31 2023||$20,000|
|August 1, 2023 – July 31 2025||$15,000|
Utility Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Return on Investment Incentive
Utilities may petition the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) for a rate of return on EVSE installed for the benefit of ratepayers through December 31, 2030. The UTC may approve an additional 2% to the standard rate of return if the utility installs EVSE on a fully regulated basis similar to other capital investments behind a customer's meter, and the expenditures do not increase ratepayer costs more than 0.25%. EVSE must be installed after July 1, 2015, and all claims are subject to an EVSE depreciation schedule. After the equipment has fully depreciated, the utility may gift the EVSE to the owner of the property. The UTC issued a report on the use and impacts of the incentive on December 1, 2017. (Reference House Bill 1512, 2019, and Revised Code of Washington 80.28.360)
Laws and Regulations
Alternative Fuel Use Requirement
All state agencies must, to the extent practicable, use 100% biofuels or electricity to operate all publicly owned vehicles. Agencies must prioritize all-electric vehicles (EVs) when leasing or purchasing new vehicles, and all trips that may feasibly use EVs must employ them. For vehicle classes without EV model options, agencies must prioritize the most cost-efficient, low-emission vehicle option available. Agencies may substitute natural gas or propane for electricity or biofuel if the Washington State Department of Commerce (Department) determines that electricity and biofuel are not reasonably available. Practicability and measures of compliance are defined in rules adopted by the Department. The governor has established a cross-agency Governing Council, which must adopt and implement standards, measures, targets, and tools to support agencies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and prioritizing EV adoption.
In addition, all local government agencies must, to the extent practicable, use 100% biofuels or electricity to operate all publicly owned vehicles. Transit agencies using compressed natural gas and engine retrofits that would void vehicle warranties are exempt from this requirement. To allow the motor vehicle fuel needs of state and local government to be satisfied by Washington-produced biofuels, the Washington Department of Enterprise Services and local governments may contract in advance and execute contracts with public or private producers and suppliers for the purchase of appropriate biofuels. Agencies may substitute natural gas or propane in vehicles if the Department determines that biofuels and electricity are not reasonably available. Practicability and measures of compliance are defined in rules adopted by the Department.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Car Share Pilot Program
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will develop a pilot program to provide AFV use opportunities to underserved and low-income communities and to those without easy access to transportation corridors. (Reference House Bill 2042, 2019, and Revised Code of Washington 47.04)
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Technical Assistance and Education Program
The Washington State University Energy Program will establish and administer a technical assistance and education program on the use of AFVs for public agencies, including state and local governments. (Reference House Bill 2042, 2019, and Revised Code of Washington 28B.30.903)
Electric Drive Vehicle Fee
Plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owners must pay an annual fee of $150 in addition to standard registration fees. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with an all-electric range of at least 30 miles are subject to a fee of $75. Beginning October 1, 2019, hybrid electric vehicles are subject to a $75 hybrid vehicle fee. Fees will contribute to the state's Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Bank to deploy charging stations through public-private partnerships. (Reference House Bill 2042, 2019, and Revised Code of Washington 46.17.323)
Electric Vehicle (EV) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) Low Income Opportunity Study
The Washington State Department of Commerce (WSDOC) must conduct a study to identify opportunities to reduce barriers to EV and FCEV adoption by lower income residents through the use of vehicle and infrastructure financing assistance. The study must include opportunities to work with nonprofit leaders to facilitate vehicle purchases through loan-loss reserves and rate buy downs by qualified borrowers purchasing EV and FCEVs that are eligible for tax exemptions, focus on potential borrowers who are at or below 80% of the state medium household income, and address opportunities to increase EV adoption by lower income residents of the state. WSDOC must provide a report detailing the findings of the study to the transportation committees by June 30, 2019. (Reference House Bill 2042, 2019)
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) and Battery Exchange Station Regulations
State and local governments may lease land for installing, maintaining, and operating EVSE or electric vehicle battery exchange stations for up to 50 years for at least $1 per year. Additionally, the installation of battery charging and exchange stations is categorically exempt from the Washington Environmental Policy Act. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 79.13.100 and 43.21C.410)
Local Government Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Infrastructure Requirements
Jurisdictions must develop regulations to allow the use of PEV infrastructure and battery charging stations in all areas except critical areas or areas zoned for residential or resource use. The Washington Department of Commerce included a model ordinance, development regulations, and guidance for local governments for site assessment and installing PEV infrastructure in Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: A Guide for Local Governments in Washington State. This requirement applies to jurisdictions that meet specific location criteria and is contingent upon federal funding. Additionally, cities or municipalities may adopt incentive programs to encourage retrofitting of existing structures capable of charging PEVs. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 35.63.126, 35.63.127, 35A.63.107, 36.70.695, 36.70A.695, and 43.31.970)
Low Carbon Fuel and Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Acquisition Requirement
Washington state agencies must consider purchasing low carbon fuel vehicles or converting conventional vehicles to use low carbon fuels when financially comparable over the vehicle's useful life. Low carbon fuels include hydrogen, biomethane, electricity, or natural gas blends of at least 90%. State agencies must achieve an average fuel economy of 36 miles per gallon (mpg) for passenger vehicle fleets in motor pools and leased conventional vehicles. State agencies must also purchase low carbon fuel vehicles or, when purchasing new conventional vehicles, achieve an average fuel economy of 40 mpg for light-duty passenger vehicles and 27 mpg for light-duty vans and sport utility vehicles. When calculating average fuel economy, emergency response vehicles, passenger vans with a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,500 pounds or greater, off-road vehicles, low carbon fuel vehicles, and vehicles driven less than 2,000 miles per year are excluded. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 43.19.622)
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging Infrastructure Availability
Publicly and privately owned PEVs may charge at state office locations if the vehicles are used for state business, conducting business with the state, or as commuter vehicles. Additionally, contingent upon funding, the state must install electrical outlets suitable for charging PEVs in each of the state's fleet parking and maintenance facilities as well as every state-operated highway rest stop. The Washington Department of Enterprise Services may report to the governor and the legislature on the amount of electricity consumed and the number of PEVs using state-owned charging equipment if it represents a significant cost to the state. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 43.01.250, 43.19.648, and 47.38.075)
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging Signage and Parking Regulations
A PEV charging station must be indicated by vertical signage that properly identifies the station and indicates that it is only for PEV charging. The signage must be consistent with the U.S. Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and the station must be indicated by green pavement markings. A PEV charging station is defined as a public or private parking space that is served by charging equipment with the primary purpose of transferring electric energy to a battery or other energy storage device in a PEV. Any person who parks a vehicle in a PEV charging station parking space and does not connect to the equipment is subject to a fine of $124. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 46.08.185)
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Infrastructure Definitions
PEV infrastructure is defined as structures, machinery, and equipment necessary and integral to support a PEV, including battery charging stations, rapid charging stations, and battery exchange stations. A battery charging station is defined as an electrical component assembly or cluster of component assemblies designed specifically to charge batteries within a PEV. A rapid charging station is defined as an industrial grade electrical outlet that allows for faster recharging of PEV batteries through higher power levels. A battery exchange station is defined as a fully automated facility that will enable a PEV with a swappable battery to enter a drive lane and exchange the depleted battery with a fully charged battery through a fully automated process. Infrastructure must meet or exceed any applicable state building standards, codes, and regulations. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 19.27.540, 19.28.281, and 47.80.090)
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Promotion and Infrastructure Development
Any regional transportation planning organization containing a county with a population greater than one million must collaborate with state and local governments to promote PEV use, invest in PEV charging infrastructure, and seek federal or private funding for these efforts. Collaborative planning efforts may include: 1) developing short- and long-term plans outlining how state, regional, and local governments may construct electric vehicle supply equipment locations and ensure that the infrastructure can be electrically supported; 2) supporting public education and training programs on PEVs; 3) developing an implementation plan for counties with a population greater than 500,000 to have 10% of public and private parking spaces ready for PEV charging by December 31, 2018; and 4) developing model ordinances and guidance for local governments for site assessment and installing PEV infrastructure. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 47.80.090)
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Road User Assessment System Pilot
The Washington Transportation Commission (Commission) established a steering committee to determine the feasibility of transitioning from a fuel tax to a road user assessment system in the state. In 2012, the Commission conducted a limited scope pilot project to test the feasibility of this new system as it applies to PEVs. For the results of this evaluation, see the Washington State Department of Transportation Report. The Commission began a year-long pilot project in fall 2017, and will submit a report of findings and recommendations to the Governor, state legislature, and the U.S. Department of Transportation in early 2020. For more information, see the Commission's Road Usage Charge Assessment website.
Utility Electric Transportation Plan Authorization
The governing authority or commission of an electric utility may adopt an electric transportation plan that proves that utility outreach and investment in the electrification of transportation infrastructure does not increase net costs to ratepayers in excess of 0.025%. The governing authority or commission may consider items such as the impact of electrification on the utilities load, demand response and load management opportunities, system reliability and distribution system efficiencies, and interoperability concerns. Upon making this determination, electric utilities may offer incentive programs for customers. (Reference House Bill 1512, 2019, and Revised Code of Washington 35.92 Section 2, 54.16 Section 3)
Volkswagen Settlement Allocation
The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) will work with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to select projects and distribute funding to leverage 15% of Washington's portion of the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund for the acquisition, installation, operation, and maintenance of light-duty zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) charging infrastructure.
Ecology will establish a competitive process to identify and select projects to fund with the remaining 85% of the appropriation to maximize total air pollution reduction and health benefits, improve air quality in areas disproportionately affected by air pollution, leverage additional matching funds, achieve substantial emission reduction beyond what would occur absent the funding, accelerate fleet turnover to the cleanest engines, and accelerate adoption of electric vehicles, equipment, and vessels. As appropriate, Ecology will work with WSDOT to select projects and distribute funding. For more information, see Ecology's Volkswagen Federal Enforcement Action website.
Non-residential Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Grants – Pacific Power
Pacific Power offers non-residential customers quarterly grants for up to 100% of eligible purchase and installation costs of EVSE. Twenty-five percent of funds will be earmarked for workplace charging and fleet electrification projects. Additional requirements may apply. For more information, visit the Pacific Power Electric Vehicle website.
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