On Nov. 3, Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney posted a photo on Facebook of the department’s first Tesla. (Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney)

On Nov. 3, Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney posted a photo on Facebook of the department’s first Tesla. (Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney)

Snohomish County looks to swap vehicles for electric ones

In 2018, the county fleet was responsible for 10,342 metric tons of greenhouse gasses.

EVERETT — Snohomish County is looking to make its vehicle fleet greener starting next year.

A new plan would replace 96 of the 1,776 county-owned vehicles with electric versions as they approach the end of their useful life. Twenty-two of those would be swapped out in 2022, the rest following in the next four to six years.

About 20% of the county’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from fleet vehicles. In 2018, they were responsible for 10,342 metric tons of greenhouse gasses. That’s the weight of 1,900 Southern Resident orcas.

Snohomish County’s highway vehicles — including patrol cars and public works trucks — drove more than 8 million miles last year, guzzling 865,000 gallons of gas and diesel.

“These are the policies I’m passionate about being in local government for,” said Councilmember Jared Mead, who co-sponsored the ordinance. “And transportation is one of the leading causes of carbon emissions. So for us to be able to lead in Snohomish County in this way, I’m just really proud to be a part of this.”

The switch will cost $2.2 million. It will be funded by the county’s sale of a 145-acre Cathcart property earlier this year that brought in $40 million in revenue.

Co-sponsor Nate Nehring said the one-time funds were ideal for the electrification plan.

Funding for the electric vehicles and chargers is contingent on a report from fleet services regarding vehicle availability, cost comparisons and an identification of which vehicles would be good candidates for replacement. That report is due March 31.

Some of the county’s fleet, like dump trucks and heavy machinery, don’t have an electric equivalent.

Snohomish County already has 63 hybrid vehicles and nine all-electric. Five are older Nissan LEAF models that will likely be replaced as part of the plan, according to county spokesperson Kent Patton. Another is a new Tesla Model Y outfitted as a patrol car, which was issued to a sheriff’s deputy on Nov. 3, according to a Facebook post by Sheriff Adam Fortney.

As the county moves to electric, Councilmember Megan Dunn said used vehicles should be donated to local nonprofits. Snohomish County’s public transit agency does something similar with their surplus vans.

“I thought that was a great idea,” Nehring said. “I’m actually surprised we don’t do that already.”

Jurisdictions across Washington state are making similar moves.

King County, for example, is aiming to have a 100% electric fleet by 2043, although spokesperson Barbara Ramey said pandemic supply-chain issues could slow things down. The county currently has 411 electric vehicles, 5% of its total fleet, including vehicles with no electric alternative. The county was ranked fifth in the 2021 national Green Fleet Awards.

Spokane and Seattle also have a goal of turning their fleet totally green by 2030.

And Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order this month to transition the state’s passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks to battery-powered ones by 2035. Heavier-duty vehicles must follow suit by 2040. The order, announced at an international climate summit, impacts about 5,000 vehicles.

Claudia Yaw: 425-339-3449; claudia.yaw@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @yawclaudia.

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