Denver will have to step up its vehicle electrification plans by a lot to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. The magnitude of the plan to electrify all vehicles statewide by 2050, set by Gov. Jared Polis, poses a formidable challenge to the city.
Denver residents and businesses are not purchasing EVs at a rate that puts Denver on track to reach its EV goals in 2025 and 2030, according to its 2020 Electric Vehicle Action Plan. Denver is predicting plug-in electric vehicles might reach 10% of the total light-duty vehicle fleet by 2030, one third of its original goal of 30%.
Aside from the low levels of adoption of EVs by the public, improvement of the infrastructure to charge them is falling short of expectations.
The city says it will need 10 times as many charging ports over the next 10 years as it has now. The plan, which will be updated this year, says more than 4,000 public charging ports will be needed to support the target EV population in 2030.
“Denver is focused on increasing access to public EV charging in communities that currently lack stations,” said Chelsea Warren, spokesperson for Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency in a statement to The Denver Gazette.
“We provide discounted memberships to an electric car share for residents in lower income neighborhoods and affordable housing, provide electric vehicles for the city’s micro transit service the Denver Connector, and through our Denver Climate Action Rebate program helped 240 families add EV charging to their homes,” Warren continued.
In 2016, Denver's building code began requiring that new residential construction be wired to support electric vehicle charging says Laura Swartz, spokesperson for Denver’s Community Planning and Development.
“When our 2022 code goes into effect on May 1 of this year, new parking lots/garages will also be built with electric vehicle charging in mind,” said Swartz in a statement. “The code allows for varying levels of infrastructure, from spaces that are designed to be ‘capable’ of supporting EV charging in the future to those where the EV chargers themselves will already be installed.”
The code generally requires that 2% - 15% of new parking lots and garage spaces have EV chargers installed, with an additional share of spaces that are capable of EV charging in the future, says Swartz.
Compared to gas stations, EV chargers are few and far between and slow to “refill,” despite Gov. Polis’ statewide drive to expand the network.
According to EvaluateCO, an online dashboard keeping track of vehicle electrification in Colorado, as of Feb 7, 16,535 EVs are registered in Denver County. Statewide there are currently 78,242 EVs on the road with a total of 3,877 Level 2 and 770 direct current fast charging ports statewide.
In the City and County of Denver itself, the dashboard says there are 732 Level 2 chargers at 297 locations and 89 fast chargers at 23 locations.
“Denver currently owns and operates 60 EV public facing charging stations,” said Warren. “These have 100 charging ports and are located at 25 places across the city. We are working to install additional publicly available charging stations at city properties, such as recreation centers, libraries, parks and other destinations.”
Denver and Boulder counties account for 54% of all electric vehicles sold in Colorado, according to the Colorado Auto Dealers Association.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the fastest DC Fast Chargers deliver 60 to 80 miles of range in 20 minutes of charging.
By comparison, fueling up an internal combustion vehicle is faster and more convenient — albeit worse for the environment.
“There are about 230 gas stations specifically in Denver,” said Grier Bailey, Executive Director at Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association. “There’s an average of 6 dispensers per station, so 12 nozzles per station.”
That comes to about 2,800 fueling points for gas and diesel vehicles in Denver.
According to a state regulatory report, Colorado has 2,440 filling stations, which would provide more than 29,000 individual fueling nozzles.
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