Comment: State can lead the switch to electric vehicles

Legislation will set a specific goal for EV sales by making sure infrastructure is in place.

By Marko Liias / For The Herald

The momentum toward electric vehicles (EVs) keeps building, with industry innovations, consumer choices and government programs aligning to address the urgent need for greener, more cost-efficient transportation solutions.

The Biden infrastructure plan contains $174 billion for EVs and EV charging. Chevrolet just announced an electric Silverado pickup, following GM’s commitment to EV-only sales by 2035. Ford has nearly doubled its planned investments in EVs to the tune of $22 billion.

Now that the electric vehicle transition is underway, Washington state must be ready for it.

Electric vehicle cynics often raise concerns about the feasibility of a rapid transition to electrified transportation. They claim EV charging infrastructure is too sparse to support American driving habits, and the electrical grid cannot handle the pressure of charging hundreds of thousands of new EVs. They argue that many households, especially those in apartment buildings or multi-unit dwellings, will not have access to charging and cannot afford a new EV.

All of the concerns about EVs have solutions, provided that the solutions are properly planned and resourced.

Today, we have the technology and clean energy right here in Washington to support the transition from polluting gasoline and diesel to cleaner electric vehicles. EV battery technology and driving ranges continue to improve, charging technology is getting faster, and automakers are announcing new, more affordable EV models all the time. Plus, once you own an EV, there are no oil changes, no engine maintenance, and zero stress about fluctuating gasoline prices.

To ensure a smooth, equitable transition to electric vehicles will require planning and preparation. That is why I am enthusiastically supporting legislation to prepare Washington state for a zero-emissions transportation future.

The bill we are working on now, engrossed second substitute House Bill 1287, sets an ambitious goal to end the sale of new gas cars by 2030 and puts into place systems and infrastructure to help us reach our goal. It requires utilities to account for EVs in their capacity planning so our grid remains stable, it increases EV charging requirements for new buildings in increase access, and it creates a tool to map available charging and forecast demand to support data-driven infrastructure planning.

This legislation takes the guesswork and uncertainty out of the electric vehicle transition by creating a clear timeline — with the data, tools, and guidelines we need — to help businesses, developers, governments and consumers plan with confidence.

Certainty is good for business, which is why we are seeing automakers and other members of the business community throw their weight behind a date certain for the EV transition. The Washington State Auto Dealers Association is just one example of the many groups supporting the 2030 gas car phaseout target.

By embracing the shift to EVs, we will create thousands of new jobs, achieve energy independence, save on fuel and maintenance costs, and build healthier communities for all Washingtonians.

The age of gasoline will and must end. The health of our climate and our communities depends on it. Washington is leading the United States into a new era. This bill will ensure that our communities, businesses, infrastructure, and economy are ready to take full advantage of the opportunities that come with an electric transportation future.

State Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, represents the communities of the 21st Legislative District, which includes neighborhoods in Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood and Mukilteo.

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