APPA News

By Susan Partain
APPA Sr Editor and Content Strategist
Posted on August 24, 2018

Earlier this month, Tacoma Power and several partners celebrated the launch of an electric vehicle charging site funded by a Washington State Department of Transportation grant.

“We want to electrify every mode of transportation in the state and these new charging stations help us get closer to that goal,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Currently, we have 33,000 EVs on the road and my Results Washington goal is to increase that number to 50,000 EVs by 2020.”

Tacoma Power said that it wants to see more electric vehicles on the road for environmental reasons, such as lower carbon emissions and higher reliance on cleaner fuel sources.

“Reducing vehicle emissions is one of the best ways to minimize the impacts of climate change,” said Tacoma Public Utility Board Member Bryan Flint. “Tacoma Power can play a critical role in increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road by supporting easily accessible charging stations and continuing to supply low-cost, renewable, carbon-free hydroelectricity to power the vehicles.”

Tacoma Power’s supply is mostly hydroelectric, with 89% coming from local dams, and is 96% carbon free. Therefore, people within Tacoma’s service territory who switch to an electric vehicle from an internal combustion engine vehicle significantly lower their carbon footprint.

The utility worked with several organizations to help site the fast-charging stations in Tacoma, including Forth Mobility, a nonprofit focused on increasing the number of electric vehicles in the Pacific Northwest. Tacoma Power is the first utility to join Forth.

"Forth is thrilled to be working to advance the West Coast Electric Highway with our new EVgo fast charging site,” said Forth's Deputy Director Zach Henkin.

“One hundred and twenty five years ago, public power transformed lives by bringing reliable, affordable electricity to everyone,” Flint said. “Today, public power can once again transform lives by electrifying our single-occupancy vehicles and bringing clean, carbon-free electricity to our transportation system.”

From a supply standpoint, Tacoma Power is well-positioned to support vehicle electrification.

“We are fortunate at Tacoma Power because we actually have more power than our consumers use. If we add more vehicles, it actually brings down the price of electricity for everyone,” Flint said.

Two of the fast chargers are located at LeMay – America’s Car Museum, where the celebration with Gov. Inslee was held. The fast charging stations allow users to charge for $.18 per minute – or about $5.40 to fully charge.

Although the event celebrated new technology, electric vehicles have been around for more than 100 years.

Next to the podium stood a 1911 Baker Electric vehicle that could travel 100 miles on one charge. Inside the museum, a display features a 1914 GE Mercury arc rectifier charging station. It used a regular household current to charge the car batteries – with the plug made of wood.