Colorado Springs – With electric vehicles (EVs) hitting Colorado streets in record numbers, a new study by Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center, CoPIRG Foundation, and Frontier Group finds that the city of Colorado Springs will need to add nearly 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations to public places to be ready for the estimated 26,000 electric vehicles that could be on city streets by 2030. Currently, Colorado Springs has approximately 50 publicly accessible charging stations on streets, in parking garages, and at businesses.
“Electric cars are cleaner than gas vehicles, and as record numbers of Coloradans make the switch, we need to make the transition as smooth and fast as possible,” said Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center director Garrett Garner-Wells. “After a century of vehicles spewing pollutants into the air, we need to commit to building out electric vehicle infrastructure, including charging stations, to clean up our air and support quality of life in Colorado Springs.”
Vehicles have a significant impact on Colorado Springs’ air quality problems. According to a recent Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center report, in 2015 the Colorado Springs metro area experienced 79 days of elevated smog pollution – pollution that is above the level that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined to pose “little to no risk.”
Because electric vehicles are powered from the current electric grid and do not produce tailpipe emissions from burning gasoline, electric vehicles play an important role in cleaning up our air. According to an analysis by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, a battery electric vehicle reduced emissions of Nitrogen Oxides by 38% compared to a new gasoline vehicle.
To reduce air pollution, the groups argued that cities like Colorado Springs need to adopt electric vehicle friendly policies to drive a transition to a cleaner transportation system including:
● Residential access to on-street EV charging
● Access to public charging stations
● Support for private investment in publicly-accessible stations
● Incentivized EV parking and charging
The study found that by 2030, Colorado Springs will need approximately 1,000 publicly accessible charging stations in the city limits to service an estimated 26,000 electric vehicles. The groups emphasized that Colorado Springs needs to map out where these charging stations will go. Many of these charging stations will need to be on residential streets, especially in neighborhoods where residents do not have dedicated off-street parking spots, to charge vehicles overnight since that is when most electric vehicle owners tend to charge up.
The estimate of 1,000 charging stations only counts the Level 2 and Direct Current Fast Charge (DCFC) stations, which require special installation and can charge a vehicle much faster than a standard wall outlet or Level 1 charger. A Level 1 charger adds 4 to 5 miles of range for every hour it charges, a level 2 charger adds 12 to 25 miles for every hour charged and a DCFC adds 100 miles or more in an hour of charging.
Cities across the world offer examples of innovative ways to expand electric vehicle charging options including adding electric vehicle charging capabilities to streetlights and utility poles that are already on city streets, partnering with schools, churches, and businesses that have unused parking at night to allow overnight residential charging, and expanding charging options at major employers.
"Partnerships between the city of Colorado Springs and private entities like Colorado College will remain a critical part of preparing our community for the growth of electric vehicles," said Katy Dupree, paraprofessional at the CC Office of Sustainability. "We are proud of the role we have played--and will continue to play--in ensuring that our students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the broader community have access to the EV charging they need."
Even the change-resistant auto industry recognizes that the future is electric. GM plans to launch 20 EV models by 2023, while Ford announced last month it plans to invest $11 billion in electric vehicles and hybrids, with a goal of having 40 models by 2022. These new cars don’t just check off the “electric” box; they’re earning acclaim from mainstream car enthusiasts. Motor Trend even named Chevrolet’s Bolt the 2017 Car of the Year.
The report’s authors note that local and state officials increasingly are having to lead on issues related to climate change, clean energy, and clean cars, as the Trump administration dismantles federal policies that offered concrete solutions to these issues. In the coming weeks, the administration is expected to propose new steps towards revoking federal fuel efficiency standards and weakening clean car policies.
"American cities risk being unprepared for the impending arrival of thousands of electric vehicles on their streets," said Alana Miller, policy analyst at Frontier Group and co-author of Plugging In. “Without forward-thinking policies that give EV owners places to park and charge their vehicles, cities could lose out on the health and air quality benefits that electric vehicles can deliver.”
Colorado Springs’ current charging infrastructure is in the middle of the pack when it comes to its peer cities. Colorado Springs currently has nearly twice as many Level 2 and fast charging DCFC stations as its closest analog, Virginia Beach, which is also expected to see 26,000 EVs on the road by 2030. However, when it comes to cities of similar-sized cities with far lower expected total EV ownership, including Atlanta and Kansas City, MO, Colorado Springs lags far behind.
“Demand for electric vehicles is growing. Investments in charging infrastructure will sustain and increase that growth,” said Jim Burness, CEO of Denver-based National Car Charging and a 1990 graduate of Colorado College. “There’s a ‘Field of Dreams’ effect.”
Environment Colorado Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting Colorado’s air, water and open spaces. www.EnvironmentColoradoCenter.org