By Logan Smith

DENVER (CBS4) — The Colorado Public Utilities Commission voted Wednesday to approve a plan aiming to have 940,000 electric vehicles humming along Colorado roadways in 10 years.

The PUC largely adopted an Xcel Energy concept, part of which proposes rebates for lower-income residents of communities impacted by transportation pollution “to ensure that the benefits of electrification are broadly shared,” as stated in a press release distributed by the governor’s office.

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The rebate would be made available to lower-income customers whether they are buying new or used electric vehicles.

Xcel will be asked to identify those pollution-affected communities as part of that $5 million pilot program, though no information was provided about how the company would make those identifications.

“Xcel filed a plan to accelerate Colorado’s transition to vehicle electrification,” said Will Toor, Director of the Colorado Energy Office. “With today’s decision, the PUC tapped the accelerator. The decision clearly keeps Colorado moving forward toward vehicle electrification by providing important investment in EV infrastructure.”

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The Xcel plan purportedly supports education and outreach programs, and investments in fleet vehicle electrification. Additional funds provide improved access to public and private charging stations, including those at both single-family homes and multi-family residences such as apartment, townhome and condominium complexes.

Xcel’s plan commits a total of $110 million toward the program.

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The Xcel plan reportedly meets guidelines requested by state leadership. Colorado’s legislature passed Senate Bill 19-077 – by a 20-15 vote in the Senate and 39-26 in the House – during the 2019 session, and the governor signed it into law.

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As a result, state staff compiled a list of goals and unveiled in April the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan 2020. That plan set the 940,000-vehicle goal as part of an effort to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality.

According to the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan 2020, putting that number of electric vehicles into the state’s transportation system could reduce annual ozone-forming pollutants by an estimated 800 tons of nitrogen oxides, 800 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOC), and up to 3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado. Also, the plan cites an economic analysis performed by M. J. Bradley & Associates which describes how economic benefits could total $1.3 billion per year by 2050, most of it benefitting consumers. A second study by the International Council for Clean Transportation found that by 2030, the lifetime cost savings of an electric vehicle over an internal combustion engine will be more than $3,000.

“Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas pollution in Colorado, “ said Keith Hay, Director of Policy at the Colorado Energy Office. “The PUC’s decision is a downpayment on transition to cleaner air and lower emissions. We are especially encouraged that the PUC adopted recommendations focusing on equity in the transition to transportation electrification.”

Xcel Energy spokesperson Michelle Aguayo provided this statement to CBS4:

“While we are waiting for the final written decision, we’re pleased with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission’s deliberations at the hearing. We’re excited to move forward and implement a Transportation Electrification Plan that will drive forward Colorado’s electric vehicle transition and help the state achieve its climate goals. We’re also proud to support Colorado’s ambitious targets to reach 940,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030, making the benefits of electric vehicles more accessible for all our customers, and will help us as we strive to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2030 with a vision to provide our customers with 100% carbon free electricity by 2050.”

CBS4 reached out to a pair of Colorado senators who voted against Senate Bill 19-077 but did not receive a response.

 

 

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Logan Smith