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City of Seattle Announces New Pilot Program to Incentivize Heavy Duty Truck Electrification (Deadline Extended to November 6)

City seeking drivers operating in the Duwamish Valley to apply for 40% rebate to apply to the cost of electric drayage truck

SEATTLE (August 16, 2023) — Mayor Bruce Harrell and the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) today announced a new Electric Trucks Pilot aimed at supporting local truck drivers’ transition to electric freight vehicles and improve air quality in the port-adjacent communities of the Duwamish Valley where heavy freight activity is one of the largest contributors to air pollution.

The program will operate as a point-of-sale rebate for new electric trucks operating in the Duwamish Valley and covers 40% of the cost to drivers (up to $180,000 per truck) for eligible drivers and fleet owners for a total of $1.7 million in electric vehicle incentives.  

“Seattle is proud of our roots and our future as a port city – with new jobs, housing, and thriving industrial and maritime lands – but we also know that its neighbors who bear the brunt of the diesel pollution that comes from heavy-duty trucks moving goods throughout the Duwamish Valley,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Reducing diesel emissions is a top priority of our One Seattle Climate Justice Agenda because it means tangible impacts, recognizing the disproportionate impact of diesel pollution on health, particularly in areas most affected by the impacts of climate change, while ensuring we support workers in the transition from fossil fuels. Together, we are supporting workers and our economy, health and climate justice, and a more sustainable future.” 

Transportation is responsible for 61% of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions, with approximately 9% coming from freight. Seattle aims to achieve 30% zero-emission goods delivery by 2030, in line with the City’s Transportation Electrification Blueprint. The Electric Trucks Pilot program is a step towards this goal and the City’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

“There are 4,000 trucks serving the Port of Seattle, and right now all of them are running on high-polluting diesel engines,” said Jessyn Farrell, Director of the Office of Sustainability & Environment. “Through the Electric Trucks Pilot, we aim to support drivers in bringing the first electric trucks in the City by 2024, while working in partnership with State and Federal governments to further bring down the cost of zero-emissions vehicles and creating the needed infrastructure to support them.”

The application deadline has been extended. Drivers and Fleet operators will now have until November 6 to fill out an application to participate in the incentive pilot. Participants will be notified of their selection in early 2024. The City encourages women- and minority-owned businesses and drivers, as well as those who operate primarily in the Duwamish Valley, to apply. For more information about the program and how to apply, applicants may use the following materials:

The Pilot program was developed at the recommendation of the Green New Deal Oversight Board and in partnership with organizations like the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), Seattle City Light, Duwamish River Clean Up Coalition (DRCC), Seattle Department of Transportation, and the African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest (ACCPNW), Port of Seattle and the Northwest Seaport Alliance. The rebate was designed and will be administered in partnership with the Western Washington Clean Cities Coalition, a Pacific Northwest clean fuels industry expert helping fleets transition to cleaner fuels and technologies.

What partners are saying:

“Drayage trucks significantly contribute to localized air pollution and directly impact port-adjacent communities like the Duwamish Valley. Studies have shown that the Georgetown and South Park communities face up to 13 years shorter life spans than other areas in Seattle because of cumulative environmental pollutants. DRCC supports the City’s Electric Trucks Pilot’s aim to reduce the impact of diesel pollution in our communities and our hope is that with this incentive, plus increased port, state and federal investments, we can move towards a cleaner, healthier, and more equitable future in the Duwamish Valley.” – Paulina Lopez, DRCC

“Truck drivers operate on thin margins, and the price tag for an electric drayage truck can be a major deterrent. The African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest believes we can foster a sustainable future that benefits drivers and communities alike and is proud to have helped develop the Electric Truck Pilot to bring down the cost of electric drayage trucks and ensure the viability of trucking as a career where drivers can support their families. We look forward to partnering with the City to seek state and federal funding to make zero-emission trucks affordable for all the drivers serving the Port.”  – Peter Gishuru, President African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest.

“Last fall, I tried an electric truck – it was powerful and quiet – but I also learned they are expensive! Drivers who operate trucks at the Port often buy their trucks 2nd or 3rd hand for $60,000, but a new electric drayage truck can cost more than $400,000. As a truck driver, I support the City’s new incentive for purchasing electric trucks. As we transition to electric vehicles, I believe it is possible to lower the operating costs for drivers and ensure we are not harming communities as we transport goods in the City.” – Dawit Habte, Afar Trucking Driver

“Embracing a Green New Deal for Seattle means not just reducing transportation emissions, but also focusing on air quality improvements for communities most impacted by cars and trucks and creating new career opportunities for workers and drivers. This Zero Emissions Trucks pilot, inspired by community partners in the Duwamish Valley and developed at the recommendation of the Oversight board, showcases our commitment to a sustainable future, where innovation drives progress while supporting careers in goods-delivery, fleet operations, vehicle maintenance, and infrastructure construction.” – Nina Olivier, Green New Deal Oversight Board.

“The ICCT is pleased to see the City of Seattle launch a purchase incentive program for zero-emission port trucks. We are proud to bring to this work decades of international experience and a successful research partnership that underpins the design of this promising initiative. These trucks are commercially available today and can perform the same work as diesel trucks. Drivers benefit from significantly lower operating costs, saving more money the more they drive electric, and Duwamish Valley residents benefit from fewer diesel emissions and lower childhood asthma rates. I am confident that the lessons learned from Seattle’s program will point the way toward a fully zero-emission Puget Sound Gateway so all near-port residents can breathe clean air.”  Ray Minjares, The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT)

“Transitioning heavy-duty trucking away from fossil fuels to carbon-free electric power means more than just the critical reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It means that we’re directly benefiting the communities that are and have historically been most impacted by the local air quality from heavy-duty trucking pollution. City Light applauds the efforts of the Heavy Duty Trucks Electrification Pilot program, and is standing by to power even more electric freight and fleet vehicles to eliminate harmful tailpipe emissions in the communities we serve.” – Emeka Anyanwu, Energy Innovation & Resources Officer at Seattle City Light.

“SDOT is pursuing a ‘Right-Size, then Electrify’ approach to our own fleet, and we’re delighted to partner with OSE to help commercial fleets decarbonize.” – Greg Spotts, Director of Seattle Department of Transportation

“The Port of Seattle and The Northwest Seaport Alliance (Ports of Seattle and Tacoma marine cargo joint venture) applauds the City’s Drayage Truck Electrification Incentive Pilot Program. This initiative is well-timed to also leverage significant state and federal funds that will be needed for the wide adoption of electric trucks serving our Ports by over 4000 drivers of many nationalities.”– Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman