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Opinion Columns

Opinion: Electric vehicles are the future for Colorado

The Air Quality Control Commission has the opportunity to ensure Coloradans have access to the best-performing, cheapest to operate and cleanest cars on the market.

Last year, Colorado started down the road of ensuring Coloradans would get the best new cars on the market by adopting the advanced low emissions vehicle program. 

We now have the opportunity to adopt the Zero Emission Vehicle standard (ZEV) and help usher in the next generation of electric vehicle (EV) transportation.

Kevin Priola

The new standard will drive innovation and job growth, attract new investment and economic activity to our state and save consumers on maintenance and fuel costs.

EVs have no tailpipe emissions due to their electric motor drive, they are also quieter, have better acceleration, have no gas costs (charging with electricity costs the equivalent of as low as 50 cents per gallon) and almost no maintenance costs. 

In January, Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order to expedite EV adoption, which requires the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to propose a ZEV standard for consideration at the Air Quality Control Commission. If they adopt it this month, Colorado would join 10 other states across the nation with the program, consisting of about 30% of the national vehicle market. 

Adopting ZEV standards is one of the ways Colorado can stay ahead of other states with noisier, slower and dirtier fleets. Automakers have shown in other states that they can easily meet and exceed the ZEV standard, which requires them to get just 7 to 9% of their sales from zero-emission vehicles and gives them to until 2025 to do so.

Jim Burness

EV sales are already increasing in Colorado and the state can take steps to ensure this trend continues. In some states, BMW and GM are already getting 10% of their sales from zero-emission vehicles, eight years ahead of schedule. 

According to the 2018 Clean Jobs Colorado report from the Rocky Mountains chapter of the national, nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), more than 2,700 Coloradans work in the electric vehicle and advanced automotive industry, including technological innovation in lightweight materials, engine design, aerodynamics and EV charging infrastructure.

A recent analysis by Statista shows private investment in next-generation EV technology is flowing at higher rates to states with ZEV standards, and at much lower levels to states without ZEV standards.

By adopting ZEV standards, Coloradans can expect the jobs in this industry to continue to grow. What’s more, increased vehicle electrification helps all electric ratepayers, as additional EV drivers use the grid and provide system-wide benefits.

And of course, our Colorado drivers will always be able to buy the type, size and power of vehicle that best fits their needs, EV or otherwise. For those who would like to buy an EV, this standard would ensure automakers are shipping the latest EVs to Colorado.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Currently many Colorado shoppers can’t find the vehicle they want because manufacturers aren’t offering all EV models in the state, including electric-SUVs and trucks that Coloradans would enthusiastically welcome.

Colorado is already planning on building out fast EV charging corridors, where EV owners can charge their cars quickly and conveniently throughout the state, using a portion of the $68.7 million from the diesel scandal settlement with Volkswagen.

In addition, the passage into law of SB19-077, a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Priola, will now allow investor-owned utilities to help build out EV charging throughout their service areas. This network will only continue growing over the coming decade as demand grows. 

This ZEV policy will provide the extra push we need to bring our transportation, electric generation and air quality into the 21st century.

Colorado is the best place to live — we already combine love of our beautiful outdoors with leadership in developing new technology and creating jobs — all while improving our environment and quality of life. Let’s boldly continue along this path.

State Sen. Kevin Priola represents Colorado Senate District 25, covering Adams County. Jim Burness is Founder & CEO of National Car Charging, with headquarters in Denver.

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