OLYMPIA — Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, wants legislators to make hydrogen-powered cars more affordable.

Hawkins pre-filed a bill Monday for the upcoming legislative session to establish an eight-year statewide pilot project to reduce sales tax on purchases of fuel-cell electric vehicles.

“The people of North Central Washington have been leaders in clean energy for decades and new state efforts to promote renewable hydrogen and zero-emissions vehicles will help us continue our innovative work,” Hawkins said in a news release.

In 2019, the legislature passed Hawkins’ bill to allow public utility districts to produce and sell renewable hydrogen.

The legislature convenes Jan. 11. Hawkins' bill has 20 co-sponsors.

The Douglas County PUD plans to use its surplus hydropower to create renewable hydrogen from excess renewable hydropower, and possibly build hydrogen fuel stations in the future, Hawkins’ release said.

The new bill, Senate Bill 5000, would extend a similar exemption in vehicle sales tax that purchasers of traditional electric vehicles receive. With the first hydrogen fueling stations in the state expected to be operational by 2022, the bill would allow a total of 650 vehicles to receive a 50% sales tax exemption from 2023 to 2029.

Hawkins believes hydrogen vehicles show promise due to the speed of refuel and the limited infrastructure needed to bring fuel to the fuel station.

The bill would help establish parity between fuel-cell electric vehicles and traditional plug-in electrics.

“In our efforts to promote carbon-free vehicles, our state policies should be ‘technologically neutral’ so that we can give ourselves varied opportunities to reduce emissions and not unintentionally bias ourselves in the process,” Hawkins said.

“Similar to diesel and gas, maybe there will always be multiple fuel sources for next-generation cars or maybe someday hydrogen vehicles will be the preferred choice.”

Pete O'Cain: 664-7152

ocain@wenatcheeworld.com or

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