Navigant Research Blog

Colorado Charges Forward with Plan to Support EVs

William Drier — February 8, 2018

While California garners deserved headlines for being the most ambitious state in promoting EVs, Colorado is pushing with its own aggressive agenda. On January 24, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced the debut of the Colorado EV Plan to a crowd outside Colorado’s Alliance Center. The plan, developed in support of his 2017 executive order Supporting Colorado’s Clean Energy Transition, outlines specific programs, strategies, and goals to electrify travel corridors around the state to support the widespread adoption of EVs.

In his speech, Hickenlooper announced Colorado was eighth in EV market share last year, and that the Colorado EV Plan is “a big step toward pushing that forward.”

The plan’s five goals include:

  1. Increase adoption of light duty EVs to reach goal of 940,000 EVs in Colorado by 2030
  2. Increase the number of electric transit vehicles to 500 by 2030
  3. Increase the number of employers that provide workplace charging to employees
  4. Develop strategies and partnerships that prepare property owners for future investments in EV charging infrastructure and electrify challenging facility types
  5. Lead by example by accelerating the purchase of EVs for agency fleets and investment in EV charging infrastructure

Charging Infrastructure Expected to Benefit

The plan details that 15% of the $68.7 million Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds that the state will receive will go toward light-duty EV charging infrastructure, the maximum allowable under the settlement terms. Colorado also intends to capitalize on public-private partnerships and the grants provided through new and existing programs.

Hickenlooper spoke to how the plan fulfills Colorado’s commitment to the Regional EV West memorandum of understanding (discussed in a previous blog). This bipartisan effort brings together eight states (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana) to connect and electrify over 7,000 miles to establish the Intermountain West EV corridor. The plan also mentions that Colorado will investigate opportunities to partner with cities, manufacturers, and transportation network companies (i.e., Lyft and Uber) to support the electrification of a variety of mobility options.

While the plan is good news for EV enthusiasts, it also marks declining support for other alternative fuel vehicles. The plan commits to changing the ALT Fuels Colorado program—which since 2014 has provided grants for the construction of publicly-accessible compressed natural gas, propane, and EVs—to begin directing funds toward the build out of the EV fast-charging corridors.

Colorado currently has only 53 DC fast-charging stations, and Hickenlooper stated that, “we probably need 4 times that, but the demand [for charging infrastructure] is not going to decrease, it’s only going to increase.” Increasing public charging infrastructure will relieve some of the anxiety that prospective and current EV owners may have about vehicle driving range.

Demand Is Great, but What’s the Cost?

The high estimate scenario for the goal of 940,000 EVs on the road by 2030 requires as many as 632 fast charger stations to support the EV population, or 580 additional chargers in the next 12 years. According to Navigant Research’s recent report, DC Fast Charging Equipment for EVs, this would require approximately $60,000 per charger, or $34.8 million. With the VW settlement funds of just over $10.3 million allowed to be used for EV charging infrastructure, this leaves the Colorado Energy Office looking for another $24.5 million from the private sector, the ALT Fuels Colorado budget, or other funding opportunities to build out the infrastructure needed to support almost 1 million EVs in the state.

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