Washington Laws and Incentives
Listed below are the summaries of all current Washington laws, incentives, regulations, funding opportunities, and other initiatives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, advanced technologies, or air quality. You can go directly to summaries of:
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging Infrastructure Funding Pilot 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 first phase of the pilot program is July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019. The program is not currently accepting applications (verified February 2018). For more information, see the WSDOT's Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure website. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 47.04.350)
Alternative Fuel Commercial Vehicle Tax Credit
Businesses are eligible to receive tax credits for purchasing new alternative fuel commercial vehicles. Qualified commercial vehicles must be powered primarily by natural gas, propane, hydrogen, dimethyl ether, or electricity. Tax credit amounts vary based on gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and are up to 50% of the incremental cost, with maximum credit values as follows:
|GVWR||January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017||January 1, 2018 to January 1, 2021|
|Up to 14,000 pounds (lbs.)||$5,000||$25,000|
|14,001 to 26,500 lbs.||$10,000||$50,000|
|Over 26,500 lbs.||$20,000||$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 30% of the commercial vehicle conversion cost, up to $25,000. The converted vehicle must be less than two years old and have an odometer reading of fewer than 30,000 miles. Beginning January 1, 2018, eligible converted vehicles must be less than ten years old and have an odometer reading of fewer than 450,000 miles.
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 per weight class.
(Reference Revised Code of Washington 82.16.0497)
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)
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. 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%. To be eligible for the incentive, utilities must install EVSE in locations where vehicles are likely to park longer than two hours. 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 Revised Code of Washington 80.28.360)
Natural Gas Tax Exemptions
Natural gas used as a transportation fuel is exempt from public utility taxes. In addition, natural gas distribution businesses are eligible for an exemption for machinery and equipment used for the production of natural gas for transportation fuel. This exemption is available quarterly as a remittance. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 82.08.02565 and 82.16.130)
Biodiesel Feedstock Tax Exemption
Waste vegetable oil, specifically cooking oil gathered from restaurants or commercial food processors, used by an individual to produce biodiesel for personal use is exempt from state sales and use taxes. The purchaser must provide the seller with an exemption certificate from the Washington Department of Revenue. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 82.08.0205 and 82.12.0205)
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)
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)
Idle Reduction Weight Exemption
A motor vehicle equipped with a fully functional idle reduction system designed to reduce fuel use and emissions from engine idling may exceed the state maximum weight limitations by up to 550 pounds to compensate for the added weight of the idle reduction technology. The vehicle operator must provide written certification of the weight of the technology and demonstrate the technology is fully functional. (Reference Washington Administrative Code 468-38-073)
Laws and Regulations
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.
(Reference Session Law 2018-298, Section 3008)
Support for Autonomous Vehicles
The Washington Office of the Governor established a work group to assess the state government's role in cultivating the safe development of automated vehicles. The work group includes representatives from the Washington Departments of Transportation, Commerce, and Labor, as well as the Washington State Patrol, Traffic Safety Commission, and the Governor's Office. The group will collaborate with industry representatives, stakeholders, and government representatives, to request updates on autonomous vehicle pilot programs and inform proposed changes to policies, rules, and statutes within the state. (Reference Executive Order 17-02, 2017)
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 Supply Equipment (EVSE) Study
The Washington Joint Transportation Committee (Committee), in coordination with the Washington Department of Transportation, local governments, and industry stakeholders, evaluated the current status of EVSE in Washington and made recommendations for potential business models for financially-sustainable EVSE deployment. For more information, including a copy of the interim and final report, see the Committee website.
Renewable Fuel Standard
At least 2% of all diesel fuel sold in Washington must be biodiesel or renewable diesel. This requirement will increase to 5% 180 days after the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) determines that in-state feedstocks and oil-seed crushing capacity can meet a 3% requirement. Renewable diesel is defined as a diesel fuel substitute produced from non-petroleum renewable sources, including vegetable oils and animal fats, meets the federal registration requirements for fuels and fuel additives and ASTM specification D975.
At least 2% of the total gasoline sold in the state must be denatured ethanol. The ethanol requirement increase if the Washington Department of Ecology determines that this increase will not jeopardize continued attainment of federal Clean Air Act standards, and WSDA determines that the state can economically support the production of higher ethanol blends.
All state agencies with jurisdiction over renewable fuel infrastructure, specifically storage, blending, and dispensing equipment, are required to expedite related application and permitting processes. The governor may suspend these requirements by Executive Order if the standard is temporarily technically or economically infeasible, or poses a significant risk to public safety.
(Reference Revised Code of Washington 19.112.010 and 19.112.110 through 19.112.180)
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) 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) Fee
PEV owners must pay an annual vehicle registration renewal fee of $150. This fee expires if the legislature imposes a vehicle miles traveled fee or tax in the state. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with an all-electric range of at least 30 miles are subject to the registration renewal fee. PEV registration fees will contribute to the state's Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Bank to deploy charging stations through public-private partnerships. (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)
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. For more information, see the Commission's Road Usage Charge Assessment website.
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)
Biofuel Blend Dispenser Labeling Requirement
Pumps dispensing ethanol or biodiesel blends must have a label that specifies the percentage of ethanol or biodiesel present in the fuel. Ethanol pumps distributing between 1% and 10% must include a label stating that the fuel "contains up to 10% ethanol" and those distributing blends greater than 10% must be labeled with the capital letter E, followed by the numerical value volume of ethanol and the word "ethanol." Pumps dispensing biodiesel blends of 5% (B5) or less must include a label stating that the fuel "may contain up to five percent biodiesel" and those distributing blends greater than 5% must be labeled with the capital letter B, followed by the numerical value volume of biodiesel and the words "biodiesel" or "biodiesel blend." (Reference Revised Code of Washington 19.112.020, and Washington Administrative Code 16-662-115)
Biofuel Quality Program
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Biofuels Quality Program tests and assesses biofuel quality and quantity to resolve any quality issues before the product reaches the consumer. WSDA samples biofuel throughout the state, monitors and tracks the quality of biofuel, and works with producers and manufacturers to help supply the highest biofuel quality fuel available to consumers. The goal of the program is to create equity in the biofuel marketplace for refiners, suppliers, distributors, and retailers, and protect consumers. For more information, see the WSDA Biofuels Quality Program website. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 19.112.005 to 119.112.080)
E85 motor fuel is defined as an alternative fuel that is a blend of ethanol and hydrocarbon, of which the ethanol portion is 75-85% denatured fuel ethanol by volume and complies with the most current ASTM specification D5798. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 19.112.010)
Biodiesel fuel is defined as a mono alkyl ester of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats for use in compression-ignition engines and meets the requirements of the ASTM specification D6751 in effect as of January 1, 2003. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 19.112.010 and 43.19.643)
Biodiesel Storage Regulations
Underground storage tank (UST) regulations apply to all biodiesel blends with the exception of 100% biodiesel (B100). If a UST owner increases the percentage of biofuel in a petroleum UST, they must prove that all UST materials are compatible with that product. UST owners must submit an Alternative Fuel Installation or Conversion Checklist when the percentage of ethanol in gasoline is greater than 10% or the biodiesel percentage in diesel is greater than 20%. For more information, see the Department's Biodiesel In Underground Storage Tanks fact sheet. (Reference Washington Administrative Code 173-360)
Point of Contact
Underground Storage Tank Inspector
Washington Department of Ecology
Phone: (425) 649-7189
Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Standards
Washington adopted the California motor vehicle emissions and compliance requirements specified in Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations, with the exception of California's zero emission vehicle sales requirements. The Washington Department of Ecology adopted rules to implement these emissions standards for passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles, known as the Clean Car Law. For more information, see the Washington Clean Car Standards website. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 70.120A.010 and 70.120A.020 and Washington Administrative Code 173-423-010 to 173-423-150)
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Labeling Requirement
Every alternative fuel automobile, truck, motorcycle, motor home, or off-road vehicle must bear a reflective placard from the National Fire Protection Association indicating that the vehicle is powered by an alternative fuel. Alternative fuels include propane and natural gas. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 46.37.467)
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Annual Fee
Owners of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and propane powered vehicles are required to pay an annual license fee, based on gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), instead of motor fuel excise taxes. The fee is calculated as follows:
|Less than 10,000 pounds (lbs.)||$45|
|10,001 - 18,000 lbs.||$80|
|18,001 - 28,000 lbs.||$110|
|28,001 - 36,000 lbs.||$150|
|More than 36,000 lbs.||$250|
To determine the actual annual license fee imposed per registration year, multiply the appropriate dollar amount given in the above schedule by the motor vehicle fuel tax rate in cents per gallon effective on July 1 of the preceding calendar year, and divide the resulting amount by $0.12. There is an additional $5 handling fee for each license issued.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) convened a work group and submitted recommendations to the legislature on an annual license fee that more closely represents the average fuel consumption of vehicles by weight. The work group also developed a transition plan to move more NGVs from the license fee to the fuel tax under Revised Code of Washington 82.38.030. The transition plan incorporates stakeholder feedback and includes draft legislation and cost and revenue estimates. The work group includes representatives from WSDOT, the trucking industry, NGV manufacturers, and other stakeholders. For more information, see WDOT's Annual License Fee in Lieu of Fuel Tax and Natural Gas Recommendations reports.
(Reference Revised Code of Washington 82.32.900 and 82.38.075)
Medium-Speed and Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) Definition and Access to Roadways
NEVs and medium-speed electric vehicles are defined as self-propelled, electrically powered four-wheeled motor vehicles. NEVs may reach speeds of at least 20 miles per hour (mph) but not more than 25 mph. Medium-speed electric vehicles may reach speeds of at least 25 mph but not more than 35 mph. NEVs and medium-speed electric vehicles must be in compliance with the national safety standards in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 571.500. NEVs are permitted on roads having speed limits of up to 35 mph. Medium-speed electric vehicles are permitted on roads having speed limits of up to 45 mph in counties consisting of islands that are only connected to the mainland by ferry routes. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 46.04.295, 46.04.357, 46.61.723, and 46.61.725)
Biodiesel Use Requirement
At least 20% of all diesel fuel used to fuel state agency vehicles, vessels, and construction equipment must be biodiesel. The Washington Department of Enterprise Services (WDES) must assist state agencies by coordinating the purchase and delivery of biodiesel if requested, using long-term contracts if necessary, to secure a sufficient and stable supply of biodiesel. For state agencies complying with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) mandate, at least 2% biodiesel (B2) must be used as an additive to ULSD for lubricity, provided that the use of a lubricity additive is appropriate and that performance and cost are comparable with other available lubricity additives. All agencies using biodiesel must submit annual consumption reports to WDES. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 43.19.642 and 43.19.646)
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, effective June 1, 2018, 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 (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. 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.
State Vehicle Low Rolling Resistance Tire Requirement
Except for cars operated by the state patrol, Washington state agencies replacing the tires on their vehicles must use tires with the same or better rolling resistance as the original tires. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 43.19.648)
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 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 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 43.19.622)
Biofuels Production and Distribution Contracts
Conservation districts, public development authorities, municipal utilities, and public utility districts may enter into crop purchase contracts to produce, sell, and distribute biodiesel produced from Washington feedstocks, cellulosic ethanol, and cellulosic ethanol blended fuels for utility and public use. Additionally, municipal utilities and public utility districts may produce and distribute biodiesel, ethanol, and ethanol blended fuels. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 35.21.465, 35.92.440, 54.04.190, and 89.08.570)
Renewable Natural Gas Fuel Sales Regulations
Public utility districts are authorized to sell renewable natural gas to facilities that condense or dispense natural gas for use as a motor fuel. Renewable natural gas is defined as methane gas or other hydrocarbons derived from organic materials. (Reference Revised Code of Washington 54.04.190)
State Emissions Reductions Requirements
Washington state must limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to achieve the following reductions:
- By 2020, reduce overall GHG emissions in the state to 1990 levels;
- By 2035, reduce overall GHG emissions in the state to 25% below 1990 levels; and
- By 2050, reduce overall emissions to 50% below 1990 levels or 70% below the state's expected emissions that year.