- Colorado lawmakers have approved a measure requiring utilities to file transportation electrification plans by May 2020, a move clean energy advocates say will help address tailpipe emissions and an air pollution crisis in the state.
- Senate Bill 077 would also allow utilities to own charging stations and earn a return on the investment. Gov. Jared Polis, D, is expected to sign it into law, according to Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG).
- Colorado wants almost 1 million EVs on its roads by 2040, and one of Polis' first actions when assuming office in January was to call for the state to set a Zero Emission Vehicle policy. More recently, lawmakers have taken steps to ensure there is sufficient charging infrastructure in rural areas of the state.
Colorado has a reputation for pristine mountains and conservation, but Denver has some of the worst air pollution in the nation and advocates say boosting electric vehicle adoption is one way to address the issue.
According to analysis by CoPIRG, Denver will need 1,200 more charging stations by 2030 in order to maintain the transition to EVs. The group called SB 077 a "critical piece of legislation" for tackling the air pollution crisis.
"We cannot reduce this air pollution and clean up our air unless we aggressively switch the vast majority of our vehicles from gas-powered to tailpipe emissions-free, electric vehicles," the group said in a letter to lawmakers. "We do not believe we can make this transition quickly, and ensure the transition to clean, electric-powered vehicles happens equally in every neighborhood without the active involvement of major utilities."
The legislation would allow utility rates to include a return on electric vehicle infrastructure investments, including "allowing a utility to earn a rate of return on rebates provided by customers through a transportation electrification program." And it would direct utilities to consider investments or incentives to facilitate charging public fleets.
Colorado ranks 4th nationally for EV and battery electric hybrid adoption, according to the Auto Alliance. The state has set a goal to get 940,000 EVs on the road by 2040 and offers a $5,000 tax credit toward EVs on top of any federal incentive. Colorado has also entered a partnership with seven Western states to develop chargers across the region.
While EVs can help address Denver's air pollution, the state is also working to ensure equitable access to charging infrastructure.
Colorado's EV Grant Fund was established in 2009 to provide funds to local governments to install chargers, and operates under the Charge Ahead Colorado name. Legislation passed in April expands how the fund can be used, with a particular focus on making sure rural areas are not left behind in the transition.