County sets $5 as maximum fee for recharging stations

May 31, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

The cost to plug in electric and hybrid vehicles at King County facilities is capped at $5, County Council members decided May 16.

The ordinance establishes a per-use fee, and directs the county Department of Transportation to set a fee of up to $5 per use. The proposed maximum fee is based on maintenance costs, vendor costs and electricity.

“The $5 cap fee approved today should give the economic viability of electric cars a real jolt,” council Vice Chairwoman Jane Hague said in a release. “‘Green’ vehicles are the future of transportation, and providing commuters with a variety of practical options is definitely a good thing.”

Plans call for charging stations at Issaquah City Hall Northwest and the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride. The cap might be used at the Issaquah stations, although the city has yet to set a local policy for use. Issaquah and other cities could also set a per-session fee.

“It helps to define a session and it is useful to be in partnership with the county, so that regionally we are setting consistent infrastructure,” city Senior Program Manager Mary Joe de Beck said.

Technological advances in recent years have made electric vehicles — both battery-powered and plug-in hybrids — more affordable to own.

In 2009, the council called on the county executive to establish policies for developing and operating electric vehicle charging stations on county-owned or -leased property.

“It is exciting to have the grant support from partners to develop charging stations at park-and-ride facilities,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, the Issaquah representative, said in a press release. “This modest cost-recovery measure will provide citizens with convenient access to charging stations now and into the future, and will prepare our infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing number of ‘green’ vehicles on the road.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine outlined a plan last year to add charging stations across the region. In addition, council members approved a program last year to install up to 200 charging stations at county-owned, -leased or partnering organizations’ facilities, such as Metro Transit lots. The cost to operate the facilities should be covered by the fee.

“Our goal is to make driving electric vehicles convenient and affordable in King County because they’re the wave of the future for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign energy,” Councilman Larry Phillips said in a release.

Issaquah City Council members paved the way for charging stations in August, by adding electric vehicle language to the city code and allowing charging stations throughout the city.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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