Why Electric Vehicles are Ideal in Pierce and Snohomish Counties

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I recently tried to buy a Chevy Bolt in Pierce County. When I called around to local dealers no one had one in stock. One dealership offered to get a Bolt from their Olympia dealership.  The state sales tax incentive was running out (will be gone by May 31st) and I was finally ready to buy a Chevy Bolt with its improved battery (that goes over 230 miles on a charge) but they were almost all in King County.

For many dealerships these electric cars are money losers and are only around as compliance cars that allow them to sell their less fuel-efficient trucks and SUV’s. These cars also don’t need much maintenance so they cannot expect to make money on oil changes and other maintenance that internal combustion engines need.

With current state and federal rebates electric cars can save you money as they cost about 1/3rd as much to operate and maintain. Low mile used EV’s can be found for around $10,000 and are a very affordable solution if you have a place to plug-in at night.

Unfortunately, Pierce County residents are falling behind in purchasing electric vehicles. There are 1,939 Electric Vehicles in Pierce County, as of January 1st, 2018. That is 1,013 less than Snohomish County and 13,712 fewer than King County.

Most EV’s per person top 10 population

  • King County 1 EV per 131 people
  • Kitsap County 1 EV per 260 people
  • Snohomish County 1 EV per 261 people
  • Thurston County 1 EV per 271 people
  • Whatcom County 1 EV per 293 people
  • Clark County 1 EV per 348 people
  • Pierce County 1 EV per 438 people
  • Benton County 1 EV per 575 people
  • Spokane County 1 EV per 949 people
  • Yakima County 1 EV per 2,273 people

Western Washington Top 10 Ranks

  • San Juan County 1 EV per 92 people
  • King County 1 EV per 131 people
  • Kitsap County 1 EV per 260 people
  • Island County 1 EV per 260 people
  • Snohomish County 1 EV per 261 people
  • Thurston County 1 EV per 271 people
  • Whatcom County 1 EV per 293 people
  • Clark County 1 EV per 348 people
  • Pierce County 1 EV per 438 people
  • Skagit County 1 EV per 445 people

Where Should these Electric Cars Operate Ideally?

These cars are cleanest when they run on clean energy (EV’s are always cleaner than gas cars).

Four County EV Overview

Snohomish County Electricity: The lowest carbon intensity electricity and tens of thousands of people who drive to King County for work. Great Fit for EV’s!

Pierce County Electricity: Second cleanest electricity and over 150,000 people with long commutes and less built out transit access. Great Fit for EV’s!

King County Electricity: Most Transit and third cleanest electric grid. Not ideal for EV’s outside of Seattle Public Utilities. City driving is good for EV’s but shorter trips don’t maximize EV value. Good for EV’s.

Kitsap County Electricity: Dirtiest electric grid and ferry for commuters make EV’s less valuable in Kitsap. OK for EV’s.

What Can Pierce County Government Do?

For now, there are only so many electric vehicles available for purchase and manufacturers are targeting Seattle and Bellevue for these cars. The problem is these cars make the most sense to be run in Snohomish County and Pierce County where we have cleaner energy and longer commutes to get to work. The time is right for a conversation with our local dealerships about incentivizing electric vehicle sales in Pierce County.

At Pierce County we can also provide more EV charging locations at our facilities so that members of the public feel comfortable that there will be opportunities to charge near their homes in a pinch. Once you get beyond Hwy 512 there are currently no level 2 chargers beyond PLU (I recently found this out). The “EV infrastructure desert” is a real thing in urban unincorporated and rural Pierce County.

We have a chance to help turn this around by placing level 2 charging at many of our facilities like Sprinker, CMF, STOP and others. Electric cars are a technology that can clean our air and water and keep our money at home so it is crucial that we do our part to help residents feel comfortable purchasing them.

Ryan Dicks, Pierce County Sustainability Manager