Electric Vehicles

Why it Matters

Thurston County and the cities of Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater have adopted rigorous greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions goals to mitigate the impact of climate change:

  • Achieve 45% reduction of 2015 levels by 2030
  • 85% below 2015 levels by 2050

Increasing EV adoption has been identified in the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan as one of many strategies to meet these goals.

The electric vehicle (EV) market share has steadily grown with registered EVs in Washington State increasing 190% between January 2017 and January 2021. According to evadoption.com, Washington State has the 3rd highest EV sales numbers in the country. In Thurston County, the adoption rate of EV has been growing. In March 2021 EVs made up 1.15% of the registered passenger vehicles in the county.

Electric Vehicle Population Size, Thurston County March 2021

Vehicle Primary Use
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)
Vehicle Total
Electric Vehicles

Source: https://data.wa.gov/Transportation/Electric-Vehicle-Population-Size-History-by-County/q5qv-gkcz

Electric Vehicles in Thurston County

Washington Data.Wa.gov reports 2,264 registered EVs in Thurston County (March 15, 2021). There are about 49 publicly available charging station locations with Level 2 or Level 3 service in Thurston County - with that number changing almost weekly. In addition, there are many courtesy Level 1 charges available at retail locations with priority EV parking, however, these could not be inventoried. The number of available stations can change at any time as business add charging stations to their parking areas as a customer courtesy.

According to PlugShare.com, there are seven different plug types and over 20 charging networks in and around Thurston County, each requiring a user account. The number and varying types of charging station providers coming to market makes it challenging to maintain an accurate and up to date inventory of charging stations for users.

Data Sources:

TypesOfElectricVehicles Opens in new windowclick image to view at a larger scale

Types of Electric Vehicles

Plug in electric vehicles, generally known as EVs

  • Electric vehicles battery powered, fully electric (BEV)
  • Plug in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) are battery powered with gasoline backup
  • Hybrid vehicles that have both a battery and gasoline system but do not plug in are not considered EVs (HEV)

For more information, Alternative Fuels Data Center: https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity.html

EV Registered WA

Charging Stations

With growing EV use comes greater demand for places where people can charge their vehicles as they go about their daily activities.

Charging Station Levels

  • Level 1 provides 2 – 5 miles for 1 hour of charging
  • Level 2 provides 10 – 20 miles for 1 hour of charging
  • Level 3 DC fast charger provides 60 – 80 miles for 1 hour of charging

Learn more about EV charging,

Interactive map of EV charging stations in Thurston County

Screenshot ChargingStationMap Opens in new window

2021 Legislative Action

During the 2021 Session, state legislators passed a number of bills that support the use of electric vehicles, including a state goal that all new vehicles be electric by 2030. Various state entities must: 

  • map locations and information on charging stations; 
  • implement rules for electric vehicle infrastructure (EVI) in new residential; 
  • study e-bikes, electrifying public fleets, and impact of usage charges; and 
  • pilot tax exemption for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.  

Electric Utilities must analyze readiness to support an increase in electric vehicles and EV service providers must disclose costs of using public equipment. Several specific locations for EVI are funded in state budgets.  

Learn more about legislation passed during the 2021 legislative session.

Next Steps

The region is taking steps at the local level to address electric vehicle needs, at this time there are more questions than answers predicting what an EV future looks like.

  • It is anticipated that as EV adoption grows there will be an increase in demand for charging stations and household charging locations which come with new challenges. TRPC has identified the need in our 2022 UPWP to develop a “Preparing for Electric Vehicles and Connected and Autonomous Vehicles” Plan. 

 Some questions and concerns the plan may address:

  • Infrastructure availability – how to address when demand for EV charging locations exceed electrical infrastructure availability and who pays?
  • How fast (anticipated growth rate) will the demand for EV charging station be?
  • What are Thurston County residents charging habits? Is there need for more publicly available stations or easier charging at home?
  • Conflicts with ADA access and charger cords in the public right of way and additional safety concerns.
  • Are there equity issues that need to be addressed in relation to EV adoption, charging options, and station siting.
  • Are there differences in regulations locating EV charging in the public right of way vs. private property, what have other communities done?
  • The cities of Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater, and Thurston County are contracting with TRPC to implement the recently adopted Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan. This will help support two actions in the Climate Mitigation Plan identified under Action T3, Increase adoption of electric vehicles, and the Infrastructure to support electric Vehicles: 
    • T3.5 EV-ready building code. Require all new residential construction be built EV ready. Create a simple and consistent residential charging station permitting process to reduce costs and time to development. 
    • T3.7 EV integration. Reevaluate regulations and make necessary changes to ensure charging stations are able to be permitted in locations where they are needed.



Other Resources

Charger installation costs

General Information