The Chelan County Public Utility District says it’s already prepared for an expected increase of electric vehicles in the region over the next 12 years.

The influx is a near certainty created by Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent mandate that will no longer allow the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in the state by the year 2035.

Chelan PUD General Manager, Kirk Hudson, says the utility’s robust generation of surplus power already easily provides enough power to meet even greater-than-expected demands from new electric vehicle drivers.

“Our projections are that if we had even a higher penetration rate of electric vehicles than expected, we would see somewhere around a 25 to 30 megawatt increase on our systems. That represents only about 20 percent of our surplus energy.”

The PUD only allocates about 20 percent of its total electrical generation for local use, while the remaining 80 percent is surplus power – much of which is currently sold under short or long term contract to other utilities.

Chelan PUD Commissioner, Randy Smith, says the power needed for the charging of electric vehicles in the county is a subsidy similar to the utility’s fiber network.

“Assuming we do get a big penetration of electric cars, it will put pressure on our ability to keep our rates low, but the fuel is a different subsidy the Chelan PUD will be providing for people if their charging a car at their home in Chelan County.”

Smith says at today’s rates, the cost of charging an electric vehicle in Chelan County equates to about 15 cents per gallon in gasoline.

The PUD is closely monitoring the effects that electric vehicle charging is having on the utility’s power network.

Both Hudson and Smith add they are highly confident that the PUD’s strategic plan will effectively balance the growing demand for power while keeping rates competitive in the foreseeable future.

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