OLYMPIA — A bill that would authorize public utility districts around the state to adopt an electrification of transportation plan has been signed into law.
Under the new legislation, the governing body of a municipal electric utility or public utility district may adopt an electrification of transportation plan that, at a minimum, establishes a finding that utility outreach and investment in the electrification of transportation infrastructure does not increase net costs to ratepayers in excess of 0.25 percent.
The legislation would also authorize an investor-owned utility to submit to the Utilities and Transportation Commission an electrification of transportation plan that deploys electric vehicle supply equipment or provides other electric transportation programs, services, or incentives to support electrification of transportation.
The bill states upon making a net cost determination, a PUD may offer incentive programs in transportation electrification for its customers, such as the promotion of electric vehicle adoption and advertising programs that promote the utility's services, incentives, or rebates.
The bill was supported by PUDs across the state, including Grant PUD.
Ryan Holterhoff who works in Public Affairs at Grant PUD told iFIBER One News the bill gives PUD's the option to look at adopting an electrification of transportation plan.
"HB 1512 was supported by PUD's throughout the state, including Grant PUD. It gives PUD's the option to look at adopting an electrification of transportation plan. The bill becomes effective July 28 of this year and is something that our commissioners may consider discussing at that time, although there have been no current plans to do so," Holterhoff stated.
Holterhoff said any plan would have to be proven to be cost-effective for customers.
"Any plan would have to be proven to be cost-effective for all customers. As the adoption of electrical vehicles continues to grow, utilities will need to understand the impact electrical vehicles could have on their infrastructure as well as managing electrical loads. These aspects may also be part of any plan that is reviewed by a PUD."
Supporters of the legislation told lawmakers Transportation is the dominant source of carbon emissions in this state.
"Electrifying the transportation sector will reduce the state's overall carbon dioxide emissions. Municipal utilities need the authority to engage in the same activities that investor-owned utilities are currently authorized to engage in. The Northwest's seaports would like to electrify maritime vessels, but the ports need extra tools to make electrification cost-effective. This bill provides opportunities for the ports to collaborate with utilities for electrification infrastructure, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as other air pollutants from the maritime industry," a group of supporters said.
However, opponents argued utility customers should have access to the technologies that they would choose to use as drivers of electric vehicles.
"Utility customers should have access to the technologies that they would choose to use as drivers of electric vehicles. There are concerns around interoperability between utility electric vehicle infrastructure and private infrastructure," opponents said.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, who was in favor of the bill. Sen. Judy Warnick and Rep. Alex Ybarra voted against the legislation.
The legislation is set to go into law July 28.