Washington Laws and Incentives for EVs

The list below contains summaries of all Washington laws and incentives related to EVs.

State Incentives

Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Tax Exemption

New passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles that are dedicated AFVs are exempt from state motor vehicle sales and use taxes. Qualified vehicles must operate exclusively on natural gas, propane, hydrogen, or electricity; meet the California motor vehicle emissions standards; and comply with the rules of the Washington Department of Ecology. This exemption also applies to qualified used vehicles that are 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. The converted vehicle must be part of a fleet of at least five vehicles owned by the same person and have an odometer reading of less than 30,000 miles. This sales tax exemption expires July 1, 2015. The use tax exemption is not available for vehicles purchased after July 1, 2015. A vehicle purchased or converted before July 1, 2015, is exempt from the use tax until it is retired or changes hands. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 82.08.809 and 82.12.809)

Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure and Battery Tax Exemptions

Public lands used for installing, maintaining, and operating EV infrastructure are exempt from leasehold excise taxes until January 1, 2020. Additionally, the state sales and use taxes do not apply to plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) batteries; labor and services for installing, repairing, altering, or improving PEV batteries and EV infrastructure; and the sale of property used for EV infrastructure. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 82.29A.125, 82.08.816, and 82.12.816)

Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) and Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Emissions Inspection Exemption

Dedicated electric, compressed 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)

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, including such entities that have battery charging facilities and services that are not 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)

Utility/Private Incentives

Clean and Efficient Fleet Assistance

Western Washington Clean Cities and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency administer the Evergreen Fleets program, a comprehensive greening plan and certification system for fleets. Evergreen Fleets provides fleet managers with tools to help "green" public and private fleets, reduce pollution, and save money. Evergreen Fleets provides a step-by-step guide to identify the most effective way for fleet managers to green their fleets, including buying greener vehicles, switching to cleaner fuels, or improving fleet efficiency.

Point of Contact
Scott DeWees
Clean Cities Coordinator
Western Washington Clean Cities Coalition
Phone: (206) 689-4054

Laws and Regulations

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)

Electric Vehicle (EV) 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 EV 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 EV infrastructure. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 47.80.090)

Electric Vehicle (EV) 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 by December 31, 2015. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 43.01.250, 43.19.648, and 47.38.075)

Electric Vehicle (EV) Fee

EV operators must pay an annual vehicle registration renewal fee of $100. This fee expires if the legislature imposes a vehicle miles traveled fee or tax in the state. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 46.17.323)

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)

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)

Electric Vehicle (EV) 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. For the findings of the steering committee, see the Commission's Road Usage Charge Assessment website. Under the guidance of this steering committee, the Department of Transportation may conduct a limited scope pilot project to test the feasibility of this new system as it applies to EVs. (Reference House Bill 2190, 2012)

Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Definitions

EV infrastructure is defined as structures, machinery, and equipment necessary and integral to support a plug-in electric vehicle (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 and 19.28.281)

Provision for Alternative Fuels Corridor Pilot Projects

The Washington Department of Transportation may enter into partnership agreements with other public and private entities to use land for alternative fuel corridor pilot projects. Minimum requirements apply and these agreements are subject to funding availability. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 47.38.070)

State Agency Coordination to Address Climate Change

The Washington Department of Ecology worked with the Washington Departments of Commerce and Transportation to assess whether California's low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) or other state standards would help Washington meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 1990 levels by 2020. See the Department of Ecology's LCFS website for information about the assessment.

The Department of Transportation must work in consultation with the Departments of Ecology and Commerce and other interest groups to address low or zero emission vehicles. Additionally, the Office of the Governor will work with state agencies to seek funding to implement a project for the electrification of the West Coast interstate highway and associated metropolitan centers and to purchase electric vehicles and install public fueling and/or charging infrastructure for electric and other high-efficiency, zero, or low carbon vehicles. See the West Coast Green Highway Initiative website for additional details.

(Reference Executive Order 09-05, 2009)

Alternative Fuel Use Requirement

Effective June 1, 2015, all state agencies must, to the extent practicable, use 100% biofuels or electricity to operate all publicly owned vehicles. To phase in this requirement, all state agencies were, to the extent practicable, required to achieve 40% biofuel or electricity use by June 1, 2013. Practicability and measures of compliance are defined in rules adopted by the Washington State Department of Commerce.

In addition, effective June 1, 2018, all local government agencies must, to the extent practicable, use 100% biofuels or electricity to operate all publicly owned vehicles. The Washington State Department of Commerce must define practicability and measures of compliance for local governments through a rulemaking by June 1, 2015. Transit agencies using compressed natural gas (CNG) 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. Government agencies may substitute CNG, liquefied natural gas, or propane in vehicles if the Washington Department of Commerce determines that biofuels and electricity are not reasonably available.

(Reference Washington Administrative Code 194-28 and Revised Code of Washington 43.19.647 and 43.19.648)

State Vehicle Purchasing Guidance

The Washington Department of Enterprise Services must develop guidelines and criteria for the purchase of high mileage gasoline vehicles as well as alternative fuel vehicles and systems that reduce the overall costs and energy use in the state. The guidance should include investigations into all opportunities to aggregate the purchasing of clean technologies with state and local governments, as well as federal fuel economy standards. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 39.26.090, 43.19.570 and 43.19.663)

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 phase in fuel economy standards for motor pools and leased conventional vehicles to achieve an average fuel economy of 36 miles per gallon for passenger vehicle fleets by 2015. State agencies must also purchase low carbon fuel vehicles or, when purchasing new conventional vehicles, achieve an average fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon (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 43.41.130)