Colorado follows a different drummer on federal emission rules

 

Gov. John Hickenlooper said he doesn’t drive himself around as governor, but next year when he’s term-limited out of office and is again a civilian, he’ll motor around the state in an electric vehicle.

He’ll be able to do that more reliably because of the plan he rolled out Wednesday morning to spur the placement of fast-charging stations across major Colorado corridors to serve the” avalanche,” he said, of electric vehicles coming onto the market.

“It really does, I think, a great job of capturing Colorado’s vision,” he told a crowd gathered outside the Alliance Center in LoDo in Denver Wednesday morning. “We’re going to have a network of fast-charging stations. We’re going to be able to address what’s often referred to as range anxiety, and we’re not talking about wild buffalo.”

He said it’s the anxiety that electric-vehicle drivers have that they might not be able to get a recharge to get home.

“We’re fixing that,” Hickenlooper said.

The state’s new plan calls for strategies and partnerships to build out electric-vehicle charging corridors and to connect with similar corridors in eight Western states. The state also will put up signs telling people where to get charged up.

The main goal is to cut reliance on fossil fuels and help reduce emissions for cleaner air. As of last August Colorado was home to 11,238 electric vehicles, a whopping 73 percent increase over the same point in 2016. The governor said Colorado ranks 8th among states for market-share of electric vehicles, but the charging-station plan should help the state hammer down.

“The economic benefits are clear,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s less expensive to drive an electric vehicle. You look at what it costs in terms of maintenance for electric vehicles, (it’s) dramatically less expensive. “

The Natural Resources Defense Council said Wednesday that “Coloradans stand to reap billions of dollars in potential benefits from widespread adoption of EVs,” citing an analysis of cost and benefits for the project.

The analysis forecast that by 2050, because of electric vehicles, Coloradans will save:

The state currently has 53 fast-charging stations.

“We need probably four times that,” Hickenlooper said. “The demand is not going to decrease. It’s only going top increase. I think this plan is going to be our guide on how to get there.”

Colorado is part of a multi-state agreement signed last October to develop the Intermountain West Electric Corridor, which in Colorado includes interstates 70, 76 and 25.

The plan includes grants to fund more stations to ensure an electric-vehicle corridor that will connect 7,000 miles of the Rocky Mountain West. Electricity providers, including Xcel and Black Hills Energy, play a role in the plan, which will be updated annually to keep pace with the market and demand.

“Nobody wants to be left behind in this,” Hickenlooper said. “They want to make sure they’re not the missing link — the missing tooth in that perfect smile of the Rocky Mountain West.”

Jim Alexee, director of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Sierra Club, attended the event and called it a major step forward for Colorado and credited Hickenlooper’s “bold leadership.”

“This is an ambitious plan to get almost a million electric vehicles on the road by 2-30,” he said. “There are a few amazing things happening: Market forces are moving toward electric vehicles so that means we need to build the infrastructure for electric vehicles, and with the governor’s leadership, Colorado can get it done.”

Hickenlooper said that, sure, there’s tangible economic benefits, but also the electric-vehicle plan is good for Colorado’s brand as an environmentally conscious state.

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