When it comes to supporting and selling plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), California exceeds expectations. The state is expected to represent 48% of all PEV sales in the United States in 2015, and has far outspent any other state in supporting electric vehicles (EVs) while also creating a highly favorable regulatory environment. The recently enacted Senate Bill 350 is a legislative U-turn for the state, which went from preventing utilities from owning EV charging stations to requiring them to participate in and support EV charging.
Many states that want to clean their skies and reduce fuel imports envy California and are looking for ways to copy its success with EVs. Public and private sector organizations in northern Colorado are accelerating efforts to move the state from the middle of the pack toward becoming an EV leader.
In a recent study, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) evaluated 30 activities that states, cities, and utilities can do to support EVs. Denver is in the middle of the pack, ranking 13th out of the 25 cities evaluated by ICCT, while San Francisco ranked first. According to ICCT, Denver’s primary utility, Xcel Energy, is participating in two of the six recommended utility activities.
EV Promotion Actions
Denver ranks 11th among metropolitan statistical areas in Navigant Research’s PEV Index, which evaluates populations for the likelihood of purchasing PEVs according to a variety of demographic characteristics including age, education level, and economic factors. According to Navigant Research’s Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts report, nearly 45,000 PEVs will be in use in the Denver metro area by 2024, a tenfold increase from 2014. In addition, Colorado is expected to rank 13th among states in PEV sales as a percentage of new light duty vehicle sales in 2015, and PEVs are projected to reach 4% of new vehicle sales in 2024.
To make EV charging more readily available, non-profit Drive Electric Northern Colorado (DENC) has been encouraging organizations to join the U.S. Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge. According to Annie Freyschlag, deployment community associate at DENC, 17 employers have joined the Challenge initiative, adding that residents of northern Colorado are within 6 miles of an EV charging station at any given time.
Colorado has strong financial incentives to purchase PEVs and charging equipment that should help the state pass others in PEV adoption. The state offers up to $6,000 for a PEV purchase, which uniquely includes used PEVs brought in from other states, and the Charge Ahead Colorado program can reimburse up to 80% of the incremental cost of purchasing a PEV or EV charging equipment.
Groups within the state are currently lobbying the legislature to provide high-occupancy vehicle lane access to PEVs as a stress and time-reducing incentive. The Denver Metro Clean Cities Coalition, in partnership with the American Lung Association, also has several initiatives to encourage PEV adoption, including Project Fever.
To enable PEV owners to fill their batteries with clean power, Boulder, Adams, and Denver counties joined together in the fall of 2015 to facilitate discounts for rooftop solar and EV purchases. As reported by the Daily Camera, the Solar Benefits Colorado program offered homeowners an estimated 15% discount on solar rooftop systems and roughly $8,300 off the cost of a Nissan LEAF.
Freyschlag says the biggest barrier to EV adoption in Colorado continues to be lack of direct consumer experiences, as the majority of the public still have never driven a PEV. Also, most people do not think about the financial cost of owning and operating a vehicle over longer than a 3-5 year span.