Washington State Mulls Diesel to Electric Switch for Ferries


Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., has green-lit a state transportation budget that includes funding for studying how to convert diesel ferries to hybrid electric propulsion.

According to a press release from Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, the budget includes $600,000 to begin the process of converting three Jumbo Mark II class ferry vessels – the Puyallup, Tacoma and Wenatchee – from diesel to hybrid electric.

“We’ve done pre-design studies already to look at the vessels, terminals and the charging of the vessels,” says Matt von Ruden, Washington State Ferries’ director of vessels, via Oregon Public Broadcasting. “So we’re ready now to move forward to actually engage industry on the solution.”

The report says the three ferries, which would still include diesel generation as a backup option, are the biggest in the 22-vessel fleet. The actual conversions, which would require much more funding, would likely not take place for another five years.

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