April 4, 2024

Washington Electric Vehicle and EV Charging Laws


7 Min. Read

Also known as the Evergreen State, Washington is quickly emerging as a national leader in the U.S. for “green” initiatives in sustainability with a robust support structure for electrification and state-led incentives for the adoption of energy transition technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs).

By continuing to expand the legislation surrounding EVs and EV charging, Washington electric car laws are working to ensure the state’s residents are able to receive state support in transitioning to a more sustainable method of transportation.

Through proactive laws and measures, the state of Washington is focused on developing a strong legislative framework that directly supports EV adoption and the development of a modern EV charging infrastructure at the residential, commercial, and public levels to further bolster EV charging accessibility across the state.

In this article, we explore how Washington State is supporting electrification initiatives with innovative legal measures and pro-EV laws.

How Does Washington See Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEVs)?

In 2020, the state of Washington passed a groundbreaking legislative package designed to gradually reduce emissions with plans to ultimately ban new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle sales by 2035.

This Washington electric car law is one of the many measures the state has taken to support electrification and the transition to more sustainable transportation and the results of these efforts have been profound in recent years, as shown by EV adoption rates within the state.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) accounted for a staggering one in five cars sold in Washington in 2023, making the Evergreen State the second state for EV adoption behind California. Washingtonians are twice as likely to purchase a ZEV compared to the national average.

However, as with much of the country, EV ownership remains concentrated in large urban areas, with King County standing out as having one of the highest concentrations of EV ownership within the state.

Experts attribute high rates of EV ownership in Washington to the combined effects of high gas prices and low energy rates. Washington electric car law is also playing an essential role in supporting electrification and shaping a favorable public opinion. For instance, the state has been investing in educational campaigns highlighting the benefits of going electric and seeking innovative solutions by working with consultants.

Electric Vehicle Charging Basics in Washington

Washington is supporting electrification with a statewide plan to develop a strong charging infrastructure. EV owners can find nearly 6,000 ports across the state.

This number will soon increase thanks to $71 million in NEVI funding awarded to Washington, along with support from the state. The goal is to build over 5,000 additional charging stations, a project that will transform EV charging in Washington state.

The plan emphasizes access to charging at multifamily properties, as well as fleet electrification and community projects. Driving between cities will also become more convenient thanks to the development of electric highways.

An Overview of Washington Electric Car Law

Washington’s 2020 Motor Vehicle Emission Standards—Zero-Emission Vehicle Law was a landmark decision that paved the way for electrification by introducing gradual requirements for phasing out ICE vehicle sales by 2035. It also set requirements for battery performance, warranties, and range for PHEVs.

If you’re considering an EV purchase, you should know that you can qualify for a sales and use tax exemption, a Washington electric car law that has supported EV adoption since 2019.

The state of Washington also stands out thanks to a modern legislative framework that aims to regulate EV charging and ensure a positive experience. For instance, the state’s code has provisions for signage, pricing transparency, and requirements for offering multiple payment methods at EV charging stations.

Washingtonians can expect to see more EV charging locations in the future thanks to a state law that requires new buildings to have at least 10% of their parking spaces equipped with EV chargers and another 10% ready to accommodate chargers. If you’re a tenant, Washington’s Right to Charge law makes installing your own EV charging station possible.

Washington also has legislation that creates a framework and offers incentives for utilities developing electrification plans. Another noteworthy law establishes provisions for local governments to cooperate with state entities, an important measure for developing an EV charging infrastructure that aligns with the needs of different communities.

Finally, Washington is also part of a multi-state project for electrifying medium and heavy-duty transportation, which could be a critical step in developing a clean freight industry on the West Coast.

Where Do You Go to Find More Information About Washington Electric Car Law?

You’ll find a comprehensive list of laws and incentives shaping electrification in the state of Washington on the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s website. You should also check your municipality’s and utility provider’s websites to learn more about local programs and incentives.

If you’re considering an EV purchase, take a look at this list of vehicles eligible for the sales and use tax exemption.

Important Washington City Ordinances to Know About

Several cities are playing an important role in supporting EV adoption with local EV charging programs, incentives, and other efforts.

Seattle is one of the cities with the highest rates of electrification. The city has an ordinance that establishes EV-readiness requirements for new construction as well as access requirements for charging stations. This ordinance goes beyond statewide rules, for instance, by requiring facilities with fewer than six parking spaces to have 100% EV-ready spaces.

The Tacoma Municipal Code has EV-ready requirements that align with statewide rules, and the city of Bellingham is setting an example with rules for EV charging fees and signage requirements.

Upcoming Changes to Washington Electric Car Law

A fundamental change coming to EV law in the state of Washington is the development of interoperability standards for charging stations. As more EV manufacturers shift to the North American Charging Standard (NACS), the state of Washington could set a standard for developing a charging infrastructure compatible with as many vehicles as possible.

The state’s electrification plan also includes different proposals for updating the state’s regulatory framework as 2035 approaches.

Examples include changing existing caps on what utilities can spend ratepayer dollars on, a decision that would support grid-scale investments in electrification. The state could also look into creating a public entity to finance the development of a private charging infrastructure.

This plan also mentions updating the state’s building code in 2024 to introduce technical requirements for EV chargers, and projects to explore renewable energies and battery storage to support EV charging.

Do You Need a Permit to Install an EV Charger in Washington?

The state’s code stipulates that you need a permit from your local government to install an EV charging station at home. Your project should also comply with all local ordinances and codes.

If you’re planning a home electrification project, contact your local government to learn more about the permit application process and the requirements you’ll have to meet. It’s best to hire a licensed EV charger installer early in the planning process.

This expert will help you navigate local requirements, apply for the proper permits on your behalf, and will also ensure that your installation meets all manufacturer safety requirements, as well as any local and national electrical code (NEC) installation requirements.

What Do I Need to Know About Charging My EV in Washington?

As a Washingtonian, you have access to an impressive network of charging stations, but distribution and access vary depending on where you live.

For many EV owners, charging at home remains the most convenient option when considering access, charging times, and cost. Besides having access to charging at all times, you can benefit from low residential energy rates and incentives from your utility provider.

Get the Most out of Electrification With At-Home EV Charging

Washington is one of the top states for EV adoption, thanks to a bold statewide plan to phase out ICE vehicle sales by 2035 combined with strong incentives supporting EV purchases. If you’re considering going electric, you should explore at-home charging to maximize this investment.

Qmerit can help you plan your EV charging project and take advantage of Washington’s electric car laws and incentives to maximize your experience. As the largest network of certified EV charger installers in North America, Qmerit is the most trusted EV charger installation partner recommended by automakers, EV charger manufacturers, utilities, businesses, and homeowners alike.

But don’t just take our word for it. Rated #1 in customer satisfaction, Qmerit’s experienced network of certified electricians has installed more than 450,000 EV charging stations in homes and businesses across the U.S. and Canada!

From assessing your home’s electrical infrastructure to exploring programs and incentives available to you, our licensed installers can make your electrification project come to life. Complete our online EV assessment to find out why we’re North America’s most trusted EV charger installation service provider today!

Author: Greg Sowder

Greg Sowder

President, Qmerit Network