Legislative Package Could Boost Alternative Fuels in Washington State

A bipartisan group of Washington state senators recently outlined a comprehensive energy plan, which includes some bills that would help encourage the use of alternative fuels in the region.

State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, unveiled the plan alongside Sens. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline; Curtis King, R-Yakima; Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick; Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch; and Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee.

Although not the main bill of the senators' initiative, S.B.5325 would establish the Clean Fuel Vehicle Incentives Act. According to related documents, S.B.5325 would provide a sales and use tax exemption in an effort to increase sales of alternative fuel commercial vehicles in Washington by 10% by 2026.

The documents say a person or company that is subject to the state's business and occupation (B&O) tax or public utility tax (PUT) would be eligible to receive credit against such levies. Credits would include the lesser of $25,000 or 15% of the purchase price of a new or qualifying used commercial vehicle that is principally powered by alternative fuel, or the lesser of $25,000 or 30% of the cost of converting a commercial vehicle to be principally powered by alternative fuel.

The total credits to a person or company could not exceed $250,000 per calendar year, nor could the program exceed $6 million within that time period.

According to Ericksen, S.B.5735 is the central bill of the senators' plan. It focuses on modifying Washington's Initiative 937, a 2006 law that requires most state utilities to purchase a growing share of their power from renewable energy.

However, S.B.5735 would allow utilities to earn credit toward their I-937 obligations when they invest in carbon reduction. According to Ericksen, these investments could include electric vehicle charging stations, the conversion of motor fleets and ferries to liquefied natural gas, conservation and anything else that reduces the emission of carbon. A third party would verify emissions reductions, and credits would be awarded according to a mathematical formula.

Furthermore, another bill, S.B.5426, would require the Washington Department of Transportation to seek bids for converting ferries from diesel fuel to liquefied natural gas.

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