Tacoma takes the lead on electric cars


As we conclude National Drive Electric Week, it’s important to recognize the exciting work being done here in Tacoma to make it easier to drive and charge electric cars.
Electric vehicles are much healthier for the planet, as they do not produce carbon emissions, which in turn drastically helps to reduce pollutants and make our air cleaner. And because the energy provided by Tacoma Power comes from clean, renewable hydropower, electric vehicle drivers in Tacoma can breathe easy knowing that their car trips are carbon-free.

Some drivers may be worried about how far they can drive before needing to plug in to recharge. The good news is, electric vehicles are improving in range with every new model. Many new cars offer a range of 150 miles or more! Most electric vehicles can be charged simply by plugging them into a standard 120 Volt outlet – just like you have in your garage. These are called Level 1 chargers, and while it does take about 12 hours to fully charge, if you travel less than 40-60 miles per day and have all night to charge, this should be sufficient. Your electric bill will likely go up, but only slightly. And even accounting for a higher power bill, your monthly costs are a fraction compared to running a gas-powered car.

There are 49 public charging locations in the City of Tacoma, with 69 plugs. The City operates 33 plugs at 8 locations, including ones located at the Museum of Glass and Cheney Stadium.  You can find those locations online at www.PlugShare.com.

The Lemay Car Museum recently installed a fast charging station, which will allow those visiting the museum to charge their batteries in under 30 minutes. They are also hosting, along with Puget Sound Energy and Tacoma Power, a chance to test drive several models of electric vehicles and bikes in several future events.

To make the cost of owning a new electric vehicle more affordable, the City is also offering an Electric Car Discount Program as of Sept. 15. The City has secured from local dealers significant discounts on a variety of new electric car models, home charging equipment, and even e-bikes.

The City, along with Tacoma Power and a group of internal stakeholders, are looking at ways to expand the availability of public charging stations, and charging equipment at multi-family and commercial buildings, and to provide charging options for those who do not have dedicated parking. For these so called “garage orphans,” the biggest challenge is where to charge if you do not have a garage or driveway. We are examining the possibility of alternate options to allow charging at on-street parking locations.

By focusing on smart partnerships and the power of local entrepreneurship, we can build the transportation opportunities of the future – right here in our backyard. We will formally discuss next steps on these import policies next November in our Infrastructure, Planning and Sustainability Committee, which is open to anyone from the public. Let’s work together to make our air cleaner!

Anders Ibsen is Deputy Mayor, City of Tacoma

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