The Use of Electricity and Biofuels to Fuel Local Government Vehicles

Commerce likes to take a collaborative approach to strengthening communities. The new rule regarding alternative fuel types in government vehicles is one such example, where we don’t have the authority or resources to enforce the rule. Using outreach and education, we’re asking local governments to self-report their vehicle purchases according to RCW 43.19.648.

The law, amended in 2013, requires local governments to fuel publicly owned vehicles, vessels and construction equipment with electricity or biofuels to the extent practicable. It charges the Department of Commerce with developing and implementing rules that define practicability and provide guidance on how to comply with the law’s intent.

After extensive stakeholder consultation, Commerce enacted Chapter 194-29 WAC in 2016. The rules define practicability in terms of lifetime vehicle cost of ownership, availability of fuels and charging infrastructure and ability to meet governments’ service needs.

The rules took effect June 1, 2018. In preparation for this date, Commerce has been performing outreach to local governments on the rule. Commerce also convenes a bimonthly Alternative Fuels and Vehicles Technical Advisory Group (AFV-TAG). AFV-TAG provides a forum for disseminating advances in alternative fuel technology and policy, as well as fostering peer exchange between organizations engaged in advancing electric vehicles and biofuels. Meetings take place the third Friday of every odd-numbered month from 9-12 at Commerce’s Olympia offices, with remote attendance options available.

In addition, as stipulated by the rules, Commerce is working to collect data by July 1 from all local governments using more than 200,000 gallons of fuel a year. A draft web-based survey was distributed to reporting governments in May, with a final form sent out June 4.

At this time, no reporting or requests for exemptions are requested from local governments using less than 200,000 gallons of fuel a year. The intent of this data is to inform the state of progress towards meeting alternative fuel goals, as well as identify obstacles to, and opportunities for, further progress.

To help local governments comply with the rule, Commerce has also produced a spreadsheet-based cost of ownership model for use in their procurement processes. The latest version of this model can be downloaded at the Washington Alternative Fuel and Vehicle GroupSpaces site. In addition, Commerce produced a guide that summarizes how local governments can apply the rules to their fuel and vehicle procurements.

Agencies meeting the threshold for individual compliance assessment in WAC 194-28-050 are:

  • WA State Dept. of Agriculture
  • WA State Dept. of Corrections
  • WA State Dept. of Ecology
  • WA State Dept. of Enterprise Services
  • WA State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
  • WA State Dept. of Labor and Industries
  • WA State Dept. of Natural Resources
  • WA State Dept. of Social and Health Services
  • WA State Dept. of Transportation
  • WA State Liquor Control Board
  • WA State Parks and Recreation Commission
  • Washington State Patrol
  • Eastern Washington University
  • University of Washington
  • Washington State University
  • Western Washington University


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