(The Center Square) – Washington has something of a reputation as an electric vehicle-friendly state. But a new study finds a much different situation depending on where you find yourself.
Bumper.com, a website that provides access to vehicle records that were formerly only available to dealerships, finds Washington has some of the largest disparities in electric vehicle charging access across different income and racial groups.
It determined its rankings by using a proprietary Distressed County Index, a score for each state's counties across nine socio-economic factors, to examine the distribution of electric vehicle charging stations or charge ports within each county quintile.
A quintile is any of five equal groups into which a population can be divided according to the distribution of values of a particular variable.
"We've created state level maps that show the disparity across distressed counties," Erin Kemp, public relations specialist with Bumper.com, said in an email.
The map of Washington can be found here.
Overall, however, Washington was among the top 20 states in terms of access to electric vehicle charging stations.
"Washington ranked 15th in terms of access to charging stations per 10,000 population, with 5.40 charge ports per 10,000 people," Kemp noted. "That's [an] 83.38% difference compared to the national average (2.94). Washington was found to have the 45th most EV charge ports in quintiles 4 and 5, highlighting a need for more equitable distribution of charging infrastructure."
She provided some more electric vehicle charging statistics, pointing out that Washington has 1,618 charging stations and 4,016 charging ports.
The top five Washington counties for public charge ports per 10,000 people are Columbia (22.30), Chelan (13.24), Jefferson (13.22), Kittitas (13.12), and Skamania (13.04).
Garfield and Ferry counties were found to have zero public electric vehicle charge ports, Kemp added.
What does it all mean?
"This information highlights the challenges and successes Washington has had in transitioning to a more sustainable transportation system and the need for more investment in EV infrastructure to support the Biden administration's goal of having two-thirds of new vehicles be electric by 2032," she said.
And there have been successes in Washington when it comes to going electric in terms of driving.
Earlier this month, EV Charging Solutions, one of the largest electric vehicle fast-charging network operators on the West Coast, announced it plans to build 52 such stations at 21 locations across Washington by the end of the year.
Last month state officials touted the planned decarbonization of transportation in Washington via the transition from gas-powered automobiles to electric vehicles that is part of a plan to fight climate change, including pointing out that there are nearly 125,000 plug-in electric vehicles in the Evergreen State as of the end March.
An analysis earlier this year by StorageCafe ranked the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area No. 1 in the nation in terms of electric vehicle adoption.
Last year, Gov. Jay Inslee said Washington would follow California's lead and ban the sale of new gas-powered motor vehicles in the state by 2035. Standards adopted by the Department of Ecology require automobile manufacturers to sell an increasing percentage of electric and other zero-emissions vehicles based on overall sales until reaching 100% by 2035.
Not everyone thinks the road to mass electric vehicle adoption in Washington will be as smooth as proponents would have the public believe.
Baruch Feigenbaum, senior managing director of transportation policy at the free market Reason Foundation, thinks going electric will take longer than supporters envision.
"First, 52 chargers is okay, but Washington is a large state," he said in an email to The Center Square regarding the plans of EV Charging Solutions. "At a minimum chargers will be needed along the entire I-5 corridor from Portland, OR to Vancouver, BC and that is going to require a lot more than 52 chargers per year. How many gasoline and diesel pumps are in this corridor? I guarantee that it is many multiples of 52. Many intersections (with multiple fuel stations) have 52 pumps by themselves. So this scaling won't work."