As part of its Electrification of Transportation Plan, Snohomish County PUD is electrifying its own fleet. In 2020, the PUD purchased a pair of electric KIA Niros for employees to use for work business. (Snohomish County PUD)

As part of its Electrification of Transportation Plan, Snohomish County PUD is electrifying its own fleet. In 2020, the PUD purchased a pair of electric KIA Niros for employees to use for work business. (Snohomish County PUD)

PUD planning for increase in electric vehicles in the future

About 6,000 electric vehicles and 2,000 plug-in hybrid cars are registered with the Snohomish County PUD.

  • Friday, March 5, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

By Snohomish County PUD

Electric vehicles are having a moment.

No longer mocked as weird-looking and power-starved, electric vehicles are now the headliners at car shows and turning heads on the street. Tesla may have started the revolution, but it is hardly alone in creating sporty, charged up vehicles.

Even those who once were averse to electric vehicles are coming around. States are pushing aggressive mandates and goals, including California’s goal to phase out internal-combustion-engine vehicles by 2035. Manufacturers like GM and Volvo are promising to make their fleets all electric in the near future, and many customers are overcoming range anxiety and their love of an engine’s roar.

The PUD is planning for increased electric vehicle adoption by our customers. Currently, there are approximately 6,000 electric vehicles and another 2,000 plug-in hybrid cars registered in Snohomish County and Camano Island. That number promises to grow exponentially over the next several years. With each electric vehicle consuming on average 3,000 KWh per year — or more than one-fourth the consumption of an average PUD residential customer — it’s the job of the utility to plan for how it will be the fuel source for all those vehicles.

Long-term resource planners at the PUD are confident that we will be able to accommodate the continued growth of electric vehicles. Recent legislation by the state made that job even easier. A state bill in 2019 authorized public utilities to adopt an electrification of transportation plan, giving the PUD the go-ahead to plan for long-term investments in support of electric vehicles.

The PUD Board of Commissioners adopted an Electric Transportation Plan this past summer. The plan’s key strategies are:

• Build a community through outreach and education about electric vehicles

• Optimize the grid with transportation electrification

• Enable customer adoption of electric transportation

The PUD has quickly acted on those goals, creating a mailing list of customers who own or are interested in owning an electric vehicle, working with FleetCarma to create a pilot study to better understand customers’ charging habits, and engaging with local dealerships to help new car owners better understand their charging options in the PUD’s service area.

Attempting to create more equitable access to charging infrastructure, the PUD, using grant money from the Department of Ecology as part of the Volkswagen settlement, is planning to build a pair of DC fast chargers near its headquarters building in downtown Everett. The chargers will be the first of their kind in the area, giving residents and visitors access to chargers that can “fill up” their electric vehicle in about 30 minutes.

Home charging is another significant hurdle for electric-car adoption, so the PUD made incentivizing home charging a main component of its plan. Incentives include:

• Offering a $400 bill credit to help customers who recently purchased an electric vehicle pay for charging. For more information on free charging, visit snopud.com/charging.

• Offering up to $500 for the installation of smart chargers. To shop for smart chargers and learn more about incentives, visit marketplace.snopud.com.

• Studying the potential of incentivizing customers to charge their electric vehicles during off-peak hours to benefit the grid.

For more information on electric vehicles and the PUD’s electric vehicle programs, visit snopud.com/ev. To sign up to be on the PUD’s electric vehicle mailing list, visit snopud.com/home/ev/ev-interest.ashx?p=3701.

Operating since 1949, Snohomish County PUD is a customer-owned, not-for-profit electric and water utility that serves more than 360,000 customers in Snohomish County and Camano Island. For more information on conservation programs, visit www.snopud.com.

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