Study investigates effects of electrifying medium and heavy-duty vehicles in Seattle.

In anticipation of the growing electrification of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDV) over the next 15 years, Seattle City Light has initiated a study to examine the impacts of MHDV electrification in the Puget Sound region. Commissioned from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the study, titled “Powering Seattle Fleets,” aims to assist Seattle City Light in shaping its electrification strategy to ensure sufficient systems and grid capacity to meet the increasing energy demands.

The study’s modeling has projected a substantial rise in the number of MHDV charging stations required around 2030 based on fleet electrification objectives and supportive regulations. Furthermore, it is forecasted that the total charger nameplate capacity and peak loads in the SCL service area will escalate significantly between 2025 and 2040.

By leveraging existing knowledge and transition plans, Seattle City Light has identified key areas where a higher concentration of MHDV adoption and charging infrastructure will be necessary. The utility anticipates a surge in demand in industrial regions like South Seattle, known for its plethora of distribution centers, warehouses, and freight facilities. While most charging is expected to occur at business sites, Seattle City Light is also considering the need for additional public charging facilities.

To accommodate the growing demand, Seattle City Light acknowledges that grid infrastructure upgrades will be essential. It is anticipated that substations and the distribution network serving South Seattle’s heavy freight areas will require substantial investments in capacity upgrades.

Based on the report’s findings, ICCT has proposed several recommendations, including gathering information from fleets with known transition plans, prioritizing infrastructure development in essential zones, preparing for charging needs, and advancing equity goals in infrastructure planning.

As Seattle City Light gears up to meet the challenges of MHDV electrification, it is crucial to address grid capacity constraints and adapt internal operations to align with evolving business requirements. By implementing the recommendations laid out in the study, Seattle City Light aims to pave the way for a sustainable and efficient transition to electrified medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the Puget Sound region.