The Governor signed the capital budget on May 21 that included $1.5 million for shoreside charging infrastructure to support the new, electric Guemes Island Ferry.
Skagit County Ferry Division Manager, Rachel Rowe, and Public Works Director, Dan Berentson, made a presentation to the House Transportation Committee in January 2019 to raise awareness of the innovative work the county is doing to design and build an electric replacement ferry.
An all-electric ferry will eliminate consumption of 2 million gallons of diesel fuel over the 40-year life of the vessel and achieve near-zero local air emissions. The project aligns with the goals of the WA State Maritime Blue Strategy for a sustainable maritime industry by 2050.
“We’re honored to receive Legislative support for the Guemes electric ferry project,” said Ferry Division Manager Rachel Rowe. “This funding affirms our shared commitment to the use of renewable energy for public transportation. The new Guemes Ferry will lead the way for electrification of ferries throughout our state.”
The $1.5 million was part of more than $32.6 million in overall capital budget funding for clean energy capital projects in the state. Skagit County expects to spend a total of $3.8 million on construction of shoreside infrastructure to provide electric charging capacity for the new Guemes Island Ferry.
In 2013, Skagit County began the process of studying vessel replacement when they hired Elliott Bay Design Group to publish a Ferry Replacement Plan for the M/V GUEMES. The study looked at the existing cost of operation then formulated replacement scenarios to determine the most economic replacement option. The conclusion was that immediate or near-term replacement of the vessel will minimize the overall cost of ownership and provide environmental improvements in vessel operation.
Currently, no state in the U.S. operates an all-electric vehicle ferry; however, the technology has been proven in Norway. Development of the all-electric ferry demonstrates that Skagit County and Washington State are technology leaders willing to invest in safe, environmentally conscious, clean energy projects that benefit both the local community and the global environment.