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Opinion: Time for Colorado utilities to step on accelerator for electric vehicles

Coloradans are pacesetters and pathfinders; we don’t let the way things have been, prevent us from embracing the new.

Coloradans are enthusiastic about electric vehicles, and increasing numbers are considering buying electric in the next few years, according to recent surveys.

They are excited about the technology, how much money they can save in fuel and maintenance.  They also like how driving electric can help our air pollution and climate challenges.

State Sen. Kevin Priola

They’re also excited about the all-electric choices that automakers will deliver to showrooms in the coming years – including Ford F-150s, Mustangs, Rivian trucks and the many new models being produced by every carmaker from Toyota to Chevy to Jeep to Volkswagen.

Electric vehicles will also help reduce pollution to meet statewide targets Colorado needs to rapidly increase the number of electric vehicles – cars, trucks, delivery trucks – sold in Colorado. In fact, the goal is to have nearly 1 million EVs on Colorado roads by 2030.

To support this transformation, consumers need to know that they have lots of options for charging their electric cars where they live, work, shop and play.

We’re off to a good start. The state already has more than 2,400 publicly available charging ports with over 300 DC fast chargers. The Colorado Energy Office is working to ensure that chargers are available across Colorado’s primary traffic corridors.

Working with ChargePoint, the energy office effort will build out an additional 34 EV charging locations across six highly utilized highway corridors. 

Coloradans need to feel confident that they can drive across our state with the support of this charging network. They also need these options to make sure they can live in an apartment and still have access to charging infrastructure.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

In a critical step to support this much-needed expansion of charging infrastructure, Colorado’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, has submitted its first Transportation Electrification Plan (TEP) to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Xcel’s proposed TEP includes several ways to help residential and business customers invest in clean, electric transportation over the course of three years. 

These include rebates for installing electric vehicle (EV) chargers in their homes, charging support for those who live in multi-family buildings, incentives for charging during off peak periods, fleet and workplace charging options, and many other options. 

Another innovative part of the proposal is an electric school bus pilot that would help improve the air for our kids and communities. You can read more about the plan here.

While Xcel’s plan will be heard first by the commission, Black Hills Energy — which serves customers in Southern Colorado, has also submitted its plan for PUC review that will be heard this fall.

The Black Hills proposal includes funding for rebates and customer education, as well as important changes to utility rates to support the operation of public charging stations.   

Some critics will inevitably contend that these investments in clean transportation are too expensive; the same argument was made about renewable energy, which is now cheaper than coal. These short-term investments will pay long-term dividends within a couple of years. The cost of inaction to slow pollution could be much more.

Over the coming months, the PUC will consider these proposals, in open hearings with many chances for Coloradans to make their voices heard on this important issue. These plans are an important part of making the transition to EV’s more affordable for everyone, bringing them within reach for all of Colorado.

Approving these plans will be the most significant step Colorado can take this year to reduce emissions and improve our air quality. 

These TEPs will help make it possible for tens of thousands of Coloradans – no matter where you live or how much money you make – to choose to buy an electric vehicle and be a pacesetter as we move to a clean energy economy.


Kevin Priola is a Republican state senator representing District 25.


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