Transportation has long been the engine of Colorado’s economy, ensuring people and goods get to where they need to go. Running through the western part of the state, the mountain corridor of Interstate 70 includes nearly 20 active business routes with heavy-duty trucks and buses traveling along it daily.
Now, as a Colorado resident, I am starting to see these fleets on my commute slowly shifting to electric vehicles. Just imagine how much cleaner our Colorado air would be if all these heavy-duty fleets on the road went electric. Fortunately, this concept is within reach with the support of the state.
Colorado today boasts one of the highest rates of electric vehicle sales and ownership in the country. And through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Implementation (NEVI) Plan, the state is expected to receive $57 million over the next five years to create a network of EV charging stations. However, to secure our place as a clean transportation leader and attract private investment by companies that want to transition their own fleets to electric, Colorado must adopt stronger clean vehicle policies.
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in 21st-century infrastructure, create jobs of the future, and protect our critical natural resources that so many of our industries depend on — from snowy mountaintops to water-dependent farm and ranch lands. Electric vehicles are the answer, and their moment has arrived.
As we look to transition to an electrified transportation future in Colorado, we certainly have a lot to consider. Namely, we must address the challenge of implementing the EV charging infrastructure to ensure accessibility and availability without compromising the mountainous landscape in which we pride ourselves. This will require proper investment in the right infrastructure and a strategic approach to where these chargers are located. We have the chance to build out our national EV infrastructure only once, so we have to do it right and we have to do it right now.
Colorado, in addition to its numerous natural resources, also enjoys the right combination of partners to make vehicle electrification successful. The state is home to the National Renewable Energy lab, robust community-based organizations working to clean up air pollution and increase electric vehicle access, and a broad ecosystem of eMobility and clean technology companies. The collective strength of the public and private sectors in Colorado has a track record of success.
This collaborative effort will be critical: Colorado also has some of the nation’s most unique yet challenging geographic and demographic characteristics. As a state, we are fortunate to enjoy 14,000-foot vertical peaks with some of the highest roads in the country, a rich and diverse farming heartland, rapidly growing urban city centers, critical rural mountain villages, tribal lands, protected forests and key trucking corridors. In total, Colorado represents a microcosm of many of the diverse communities that comprise the U.S.
Over the last decade living in Colorado and working in eMobility, I have seen firsthand the benefits of this ecosystem and how it has laid the groundwork for a successful transition to electric passenger vehicles. Boosted by the opportunities of the NEVI formula program, Colorado is also well prepared to construct infrastructure that embraces an electric future for the vehicles our citizens and visitors will need.
But electrifying the vehicles we drive to work is not enough. We must complete the vision of an electric, clean future. And this change involves clean transportation of goods both within and across the state. While just last year the Colorado Energy Office announced its own goal to electrify a bigger share of medium and heavy-duty vehicles, there’s still more that we can and must do.
Recognizing this, the state administration recently took additional policy action to seize this moment. The Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule will help manufacturers bring electric trucks to the market more quickly by setting increasing sales targets over time. We applaud its adoption last month and look forward to state adoption of other important policies to cut down on air pollution from trucks in the near term. States across the country are already moving forward on the clean trucks rule, positioning their economies to be leaders in the green energy transition and the jobs it will create. Now Colorado is one of them.
These types of rules send a strong business and investment signal to companies and utilities to build the charging infrastructure necessary to support these vehicles. That, in turn, leads to more local jobs and economic growth.
But their greatest benefit is that, by accelerating and guiding a transition that is already underway, these policies will help satisfy the market demand of today and ensure Colorado is prepared for the economy of the future, all while protecting the climate and cleaning the air to ensure our hallmark industries remain competitive and resilient long into the future.
We see every day in our work that Coloradans are ready to seize this opportunity, so we commend the Polis administration for taking the wheel on Colorado’s clean transportation future by approving these rules.
John DeBoer, of Denver, is head of eMobility Solutions, North America, Siemens USA
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