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Published on Friday, January 25, 2013

Vehicle fleet conversion bill up for hearing

At the request of Governor Gregoire, AWC undertook a review of state unfunded mandates last summer. One that rose to the top of the list is the alternative fuel fleet conversion mandate hitting local governments in 2018. By that date, statute requires local governments to satisfy 100% of their fuel usage for publicly owned vehicles and construction equipment from electricity, biofuel, or compressed or liquefied natural gas, as determined practicable by the Department of Commerce through rulemaking (which has not yet been initiated).

At the request of several cities in her district, Sen. Rivers (R-La Center) has introduced SB 5099, providing legislative direction and clarification on how this requirement will be implemented. Rather than requesting a repeal of the requirement altogether, Sen. Rivers has introduced what looks to be a modest set of directions to the Department about how to move forward with this mandate. The directions consist of four parts:

  1. Clarifying that the ultimate decision about what purchasing decisions are practical lies at the local level. As cities well know, what might work in one city won’t always work in another. (For example, lack of fuel availability in rural areas can be a major impediment to alternative fuel usage.)
  2. Exempting police, fire, and emergency response equipment from this requirement.
  3. Ensuring that cities won’t be required to undertake engine retrofits that void warranties.
  4. Clarifying that this requirement does not apply to vehicles purchased before the 2018 deadline.

Sen. Rivers’ bill is being heard on January 28 and AWC will be testifying in favor. Any comments or suggestions should be provided to Carl Schroeder.