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New charging stations to relieve ‘range anxiety’ in central Washington

UPDATED: Sat., Sept. 16, 2017, 10:23 p.m.

Electric vehicle drivers near central Washington should have some of their “range anxiety” eased with plans for nine new fast-charging stations.

The public charging stations are planned to bridge the charging gap between the Tri-Cities area and Interstate 90, and to help I-90 drivers east of Snoqualmie Pass.

Energy Northwest, working with the the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Transportation, has been awarded $405,000 from a pilot project of the Washington State Department of Transportation to get fast-charging stations installed by June 2019 along some of the state’s most-traveled routes.

“We need to make electric vehicles a viable option for Washington drivers, and an important part of that means making it easy for drivers to charge and go,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in an announcement of the grant awards.

Three of the fast-charging stations are planned in the Tri-Cities.

One is expected to be installed at the Southridge Sports and Events Complex in Kennewick. Others are planned in the vicinity of Road 68 in Pasco and in the Dallas Road area of Richland.

Connell, Prosser, Yakima, Ellensburg, Vantage and Cle Elum also will get fast-charging stations.

Fifteen new stations are planned to be added in the state by June 2019.

The stations will accommodate most makes and models of electric vehicles, according to the governor’s office. They will have combination-type charging equipment needed to recharge American and European cars, such as the Chevy Bolt EV and the BMW i3.

The Eastern Washington grants require matches of $666,000, much of which will come from private vendors installing, operating and maintaining equipment. Utilities also may provide some infrastructure.

Energy Northwest applied for the grant as a service to its utility members, but is not contributing matching funds.

Central Washington currently lacks fast-charging stations available to the public, said Jennifer Harper, project development coordinator for Energy Northwest.

It makes it difficult for electric vehicle drivers to travel across the state unless they drive a hybrid, and may make people think twice about purchasing an electric vehicle.

Vehicles may need to be recharged every 80 to 200 miles depending on the model and driving conditions, according to information from the governor’s office.

With the new charging stations, travelers can stop for 15 to 30 minutes to charge up on a road trip, and maybe grab lunch while they are waiting, rather than spending hours charging up, Harper said.

A separate state grant of $595,000, with a match of nearly $867,000, has been awarded for six charging stations along Interstate 5, with stations added in Chehalis, Lacey, Tacoma, Federal Way, SeaTac and Everett.

The state funding, totaling $1 million, comes from a portion of the $150 annual registration fee for electric vehicles.

The grants will help add enough fast-charging stations to serve electric vehicle drivers every 30 to 50 miles on major travel corridors, encouraging more people to switch to electric vehicles, according to the governor’s office.

The state had about 8,000 electric vehicles in 2013, and Inslee has set a goal to increase that number to 50,000 by 2020 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


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