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New Program Supports Transition To Cleaner Vehicle Fleets


November 15, 2021  by  Melinda Spencer
Category:  Energy Resources and Conservation

New Program Supports Transition To Cleaner Vehicle Fleets

Does your future include zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs)? Washington’s Green Transportation Program can help.

The transition to electric transportation is moving quickly. The 2021 State Energy Strategy estimates that one million internal combustion engine vehicles need to be replaced with ZEVs by 2030 to meet the state’s target for reducing greenhouse gases. By 2035, all new car sales will need to be ZEVs. These goals raise important questions, including:

  • What data do public fleet managers need to feel confident about purchasing ZEVs?
  • How will charging/fueling infrastructure develop and change by the 2030s?
  • How can the state support private investments and optimize the use of public dollars to replace more petroleum-burning vehicles with ZEVs?

Supporting Your Organization’s Transition to ZEVs

In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed legislation directing the Washington State University (WSU) Energy Program to establish and administer a technical assistance and education program for public agencies on the use of alternative fuels and vehicles. The Green Transportation Program (GTP):

  • Provides technical assistance and education to public agencies, including local governments, on the use of alternative fuels and vehicles.
  • Supports the adoption of passenger ZEVs and installation of more ZEV infrastructure (also referred to as electric vehicle supply equipment, or EVSE) by cities, towns, and public agencies.
  • Supports electrification of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in public fleets.
  • Promotes innovations in green transportation that are relevant to communities across Washington State.

The GTP website offers educational resources, information about funding opportunities, news about advances in electric vehicle technology, access to the Alternate Fuels & Vehicles Technical Assistance Group, highlights of successful public fleet projects, and policy and research updates.

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The GTP also develops guidance to help public fleet managers across Washington understand the costs and benefits of adding ZEVs to their fleets. Two new publications of particular interest are:

  • Milestones for Electrifying Public Fleets: This new guide is designed to help public entities plan and implement steps to add ZEVs to their fleets — now and in the future.
  • EV Batteries: Getting Better All the Time: Modern ZEVs entered the U.S. market in 2010. Since then, ZEV batteries have vastly improved and lithium-ion battery technology is now standard. While concerns about battery cost, safety, range, longevity, and environmental impacts have largely been resolved, this factsheet addresses lingering concerns.

Subscribe to the GTP communications list to stay up to date. We also welcome your emails: greentransportation@energy.wsu.edu.

New Mapping and Forecasting Tool Supports ZEV Adoption Across Washington

In spring 2021, the state legislature directed the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to develop a public mapping and forecasting tool to support ZEV adoption and use across Washington (HB 1287). In this effort, WSDOT is working closely with the departments of Commerce and Ecology, the Office of Equity, and the Utilities and Transportation Commission.

With teams from the University of Washington and the WSU Energy Program, WSDOT is requesting early input from stakeholders interested in the development and use of this new tool. The results of this effort will be shared with legislators before next session.

This mapping and forecasting tool will provide information to support statewide planning and decision-making about ZEVs and will help answer questions such as:

  • How will the infrastructure to charge and fuel battery and fuel cell ZEVs keep up with demand?
  • How can residential, commercial, workplace, fleet, freight, and public charging be developed cost effectively?
  • How will utilities plan for and support these new installations?

Who Benefits from This Tool?

A short list of the groups that can benefit from the mapping and forecasting tool includes:

  • EVSE planners and implementers, plus users and drivers,
  • Communities and community planners,
  • Public and private fleet owners,
  • Electric utilities and distributed power providers,
  • ZEV and environmental justice advocates,
  • Automakers and charging/fueling station developers, and
  • Possibly you.

We Need Your Insights

The legislature directed WSDOT to engage stakeholders early in the process of developing the tool. The GTP is coordinating with WSDOT to launch this statewide effort, and you are invited to participate. We offer the following opportunities to share your thoughts about the WSDOT tool:

Your feedback about this tool will be combined with feedback from other stakeholders to help the team develop a tool that:

  • Facilitates statewide planning and deployment of ZEV infrastructure in a transparent, effective, and equitable manner.
  • Ensures that utility resource planning analyzes the impacts on electricity generation and delivery resulting from increased use of ZEVs.
  • Forecasts possible impacts — benefits and costs — to communities throughout the state.

What Happens Next?

At the end of this year, the WSDOT team will report stakeholder feedback to the legislature, including the project scope, cost estimates, and recommendations to finalize the tool. Funding for initial tool implementation may be discussed in the 2022 or 2023 legislative session. Once that happens, WSDOT would select a path forward as early as mid-2022 and the tool could go live in 2023 or 2024.


MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Melinda Spencer

Melinda Spencer joined the Washington State University Energy Program in January 2011 as a technical communication/quality assurance specialist, and now works as the technical education and outreach specialist for several Energy Program efforts, including the Green Transportation Program.

Melinda has worked since 1984 in environmental consulting and the software industry as a technical writer and editor, stakeholder involvement specialist, instructional designer, web content developer, and health risk communication specialist at Superfund sites. She holds a B.S. in biology/pre-med from the University of California, Davis; a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication from Miami University, Ohio; and a Master of Philosophy in international peace studies from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.

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