Electric vehicle charging stations approved countywide

Published on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Blaine’s charging station, located at the G Street Plaza, was donated by Blaine resident Bob McFarland. Photo by Jeremy Schwartz.

Electric car charging stations could become a common sight across Whatcom County after a county council vote last week.

Council members voted unanimously January 10 to change county zoning language to allow electric car charging stations in three of the county’s residential, commercial and industrial zones. The move comes after a 2009 state legislature bill was passed supporting electric vehicle infrastructure across Washington.

The zoning change applies to land zoned resort commercial, which includes Birch Bay. The city of Blaine already allows electric vehicle charging stations within city limits. Blaine was one of the county’s first small cities to install such a station, which can be seen at the intersection of Peace Portal Drive and G Street.

A few county council members spoke specifically in favor of the stations, saying they would like to see more ways for county residents to make use of alternative energy. County council member Ken Mann said he would like to see the stations allowed in more county zones and suggested future county code changes should reflect this.

“If we see a need for these things, we can change the code to make them more allowable,” Mann said.

The charging stations described in the zoning change consist of two types: electric car battery exchange stations, at which vehicles with swappable batteries can drive up and exchange a spent power supply for a fresh one; and plug-in car-charging stations, at which electric vehicles can plug into a 220-volt or 480-volt outlet and recharge their batteries. The station at Peace Portal and G Street, donated by Blaine resident Bob McFarland, is a plug-in charging station.