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Gov. John Hickenlooper unveils Colorado’s plan to charge up electric vehicles

Author: Joey Bunch - January 24, 2018 - Updated: February 15, 2018

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Hickenlooper electric vehiclesColorado Gov. John Hickenlooper checks out an electric vehicle Wednesday morning before announcing a statewide plan to encourage more charging stations. (Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

Gov. John Hickenlooper said he doesn’t drive himself around as governor, but next year when he’s term-limited out of office and is again a civilian, he’ll motor around the state in an electric vehicle.

He’ll be able to do that more reliably because of the plan he rolled out Wednesday morning to spur the placement of fast-charging stations across major Colorado corridors to serve the” avalanche,” he said, of electric vehicles coming onto the market.

“It really does, I think, a great job of capturing Colorado’s vision,” he told a crowd gathered outside the Alliance Center in LoDo in Denver Wednesday morning. “We’re going to have a network of fast-charging stations. We’re going to be able to address what’s often referred to as range anxiety, and we’re not talking about wild buffalo.”

He said it’s the anxiety that electric-vehicle drivers have that they might not be able to get a recharge to get home.

“We’re fixing that,” Hickenlooper said.

The state’s new plan calls for strategies and partnerships to build out electric-vehicle charging corridors and to connect with similar corridors in eight Western states. The state also will put up signs telling people where to get charged up.

The main goal is to cut reliance on fossil fuels and help reduce emissions for cleaner air. As of last August Colorado was home to 11,238 electric vehicles, a whopping 73 percent increase over the same point in 2016. The governor said Colorado ranks 8th among states for market-share of electric vehicles, but the charging-station plan should help the state hammer down.

“The economic benefits are clear,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s less expensive to drive an electric vehicle. You look at what it costs in terms of maintenance for electric vehicles, (it’s) dramatically less expensive. ”

The Natural Resources Defense Council said Wednesday that “Coloradans stand to reap billions of dollars in potential benefits from widespread adoption of EVs,” citing an analysis of cost and benefits for the project.

The analysis forecast that by 2050, because of electric vehicles, Coloradans will save:

  • $4.1 billion in accrued savings for electric utility customers on reduced bills.
  • $29.1 billion cumulatively for Colorado drivers from reduced annual vehicle costs.
  • $9.7 billion for “society at large, as the value of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.”

The state currently has 53 fast-charging stations.

“We need probably four times that,” Hickenlooper said. “The demand is not going to decrease. It’s only going top increase. I think this plan is going to be our guide on how to get there.”

Colorado is part of a multi-state agreement signed last October to develop the Intermountain West Electric Corridor, which in Colorado includes interstates 70, 76 and 25.

The plan includes grants to fund more stations to ensure an electric-vehicle corridor that will connect 7,000 miles of the Rocky Mountain West. Electricity providers, including Xcel and Black Hills Energy, play a role in the plan, which will be updated annually to keep pace with the market and demand.

“Nobody wants to be left behind in this,” Hickenlooper said. “They want to make sure they’re not the missing link — the missing tooth in that perfect smile of the Rocky Mountain West.”

Jim Alexee, director of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Sierra Club, attended the event and called it a major step forward for Colorado and credited Hickenlooper’s “bold leadership.”

“This is an ambitious plan to get almost a million electric vehicles on the road by 2-30,” he said. “There are a few amazing things happening: Market forces are moving toward electric vehicles so that means we need to build the infrastructure for electric vehicles, and with the governor’s leadership, Colorado can get it done.”

Hickenlooper said that, sure, there’s tangible economic benefits, but also the electric-vehicle plan is good for Colorado’s brand as an environmentally conscious state.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.


4 comments

  • Rip Blaisdell

    January 25, 2018 at 6:29 am

    How is this going to reduce our carbon footprint when most of our electricity comes from coal or gas?

  • Jack DuPilka

    January 25, 2018 at 8:55 am

    I’ve owned a Bolt EV for 2 months unequivocally the perfect car for the urban driver .
    As for the notion of driving to Glacier National Park to camp & hike with this EV , perhaps someday , As for now the EVs with their low operational costs and road performance, the future looks great.

  • Mark W.

    January 26, 2018 at 7:42 am

    “The economic benefits are clear,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s less expensive to drive an electric vehicle. … (it’s) dramatically less expensive. ”
    The Natural Resources Defense Council said Wednesday that “Coloradans stand to reap billions of dollars in potential benefits from widespread adoption of EVs,”

    What a bunch of fascist garbage! The electric car would be NOWHERE, without crooked politicians influenced by arm-twisting largesse-wielding lobbyists of the “greeny corporate”.

    THEY MAKE IT LESS EXPENSIVE, by giving-away baskets-full of taxpayer earnings, in order that their chosen upstart battery cars might enjoy a downhill-stilted playing field to grease the corrupt marketplace skids, to make their PROHIBITIVELY EXPENSIVE, TOXIC WASTE-GENERATING, RESOURCE-GOBBLING, limited-mileage, fair-weather four-wheeled fiascos, workable/sellable to folks well familiar with all the inherent superior advantages of hydrocarbon-fueled automobiles! This is nothing but a multi-prong globalist-corporate-legislative (spelled FASCIST) propaganda ploy.

    Crooked fascist despots, choosing winners and losers, whilst condemning voiceless consumers to bankrolling a new market segment that will NEVER be able to pay its own way — BULLOCKS!!

    This is “clean alternative energy transportation”,
    like anti-American lefties are Patriotic Liberty-lovers.

  • Craig Clymo

    January 27, 2018 at 9:06 am

    One of the reasons big increase in electric vehicles are the huge subsidies buyers get from federal and state. Recharging stations, do owners pay for the electricity?

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