GoEV Cities and Counties: Leading CO toward a 100% electric-powered transportation future

As emissions from gas-powered vehicles pollute our air and warm our planet, cities and counties are leading the way to a cleaner transportation future in Colorado. I joined experts from five GoEV Cities and Counties to highlight strategic policies driving them towards a 100% electric-powered transportation reality. 

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Alexandra Simon
Advocate, CoPIRG
Alexandra Simon

Author: Alexandra Simon

Advocate, CoPIRG

(203) 536-1819

Started on staff: 2018
B.A., magna cum laude, University of Pennsylvania; MPA, Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy, New York University

Alex is an advocate on Colorado-based campaigns to promote a healthier, cleaner and safer world. She previously served as the Director of Strategic Planning for The Public Interest Network. Alex lives in Denver, where she enjoys hiking, skiing and seeing live music.

For many Coloradans, enjoying time outside is a big reason we live in this amazing state, and we simply cannot afford another summer of air pollution like the one we just had.  

Cities and counties are leading the way in cutting air pollution by implementing innovative policies to transition to cleaner, electric-powered transportation across their community. We’ve recognized those communities committed to 100% zero-emission futures as GoEV Cities and Counties.

The timing is critical: technological advances allow us to see that we can have a 100% electric transportation reality.  

The time is now for cities and counties to go big. 

As part of National Drive Electric Week, CoPIRG and its coalition partners Sierra Club Colorado, Conservation Colorado, SWEEP (Southwest Energy Efficiency Project) and CLEER (Clean Energy Economy for the Region)  brought together five municipalities that have made the GoEV 100% electric-powered transportation commitment to each share a piece of their transportation electrification program.

As part of National Drive Electric Week, CoPIRG and its coalition partners Sierra Club Colorado, Conservation Colorado, SWEEP (Southwest Energy Efficiency Project) and CLEER (Clean Energy Economy for the Region)  brought together five municipalities that have made the GoEV 100% electric-powered transportation commitment to each share a piece of their transportation electrification program.

Denver: Expanding the electric car share program in under-resourced communities 

Mike Salisbury, Transportation Energy Lead for the City and County of Denver, shared about the expansion of their electric car share program in under-resourced communities.  

After receiving funding in 2020 through the Federal CARES act, Denver ramped up their electric car share program to include 7 electric vehicles (EVs), 5 charging stations, and launched an outreach and discount program for income-qualified residents.  Residents can apply for the program by visiting carshare.org

The following map shows current electric car share locations:   

Denver_carsharemapPNG.PNG

Denver electric car share locations - Mike Salisbury, City of Denver

 

The selected locations are places where residents will be less likely to afford owning and operating their own electric vehicle or less likely to have dedicated off-street parking to charge it at.  In the map above, the darker areas represent lower equity neighborhoods that “can best make use of additional mobility resources,” Mike explained.  

As Denver moves toward 100% electric-powered transportation across the city, this program is helping develop effective ways to expand electric vehicle access in these communities.  

While some locations are having more success than others, the pilot program is learning what types of locations and models are most effective.  Moving forward, Denver is seeking partnerships to increase the number of electric cars and charging stations and to continue outreach and promotion of the program. 

Golden - Requiring EV charging infrastructure in new development via zoning codes creates more charging options 

Sustainability Manager for the City of Golden, Theresa Worsham, addressed the evolution and lessons learned as Golden incorporated EV charging into new development requirements.  

The current zoning code, which are the rules around how property is developed, requires new commercial and multi-family developments, including major remodels, to install at least one Level 2 charger per 15 parking spots.  Projects on one or two family households, small retail, minor remodels, and tenant finishes are currently exempt.  

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Current zoning code requirements as of 9/27/21, City of Golden - Theresa Worsham, Sustainability Manager
    

 

This is important because a key benefit of electric vehicles is charging them when the vehicle is parked at home or at work and the cost of retrofitting for this type of infrastructure is so much higher than if incorporated into the initial design. 

So these requirements will result in more charging infrastructure that will foster a faster transition to EVs and avoid unnecessarily expensive retrofits later.  

As the City looks ahead, they hope to move sustainability requirements into building codes rather than zoning codes for greater enforcement, as well as ramp up efforts around building electrification and retrofits.  

Boulder - Vehicle-to-building charging pilot at North Boulder Rec Center uses EV batteries to reduce peak demand and save operating costs

The City of Boulder has long been a leader in electrification, as Energy Strategy Coordinator Matt Lehrman presented a leading-edge vehicle-to-building pilot project currently underway at the North Boulder Recreation Center.

In this program, the electric vehicle’s battery charges overnight when the demand for energy in the  building is low, and then discharges its energy back to the building during the daytime when electricity demand is high. 

This project highlights how recent changes in technology have opened up new opportunities for innovation, and has proven the technology works to reduce peak demand (the period of time when the demand on the electric grid is the highest) and offer real savings in building operations.  

Since installing the charger in September 2020, in 9 of the first 10 months they successfully reduced peak demand by about 15 kilowatts [per month].  At a rate ranging seasonally from $17-$21/kilowatt, it amounts to a meaningful demand savings of a few hundred dollars a month.  

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Vehicle to building charging pilot, Matt Lehrman - City of Boulder

While most of the project has taken place during limited hours of operation due to COVID restrictions, Boulder is now tracking the pilot as hours are increased and we expect more data soon.  

Summit County - Leveraging funding through Xcel’s Transportation Electrification Plan to help build EV charging  infrastructure

Sustainability Coordinator Michael Wurzel provided  a compelling example of how local municipalities can leverage funding opportunities to maximize public investment.  Through strategic participation in Xcel’s EV funding program, Summit County subsidized the expansion of their public, fleet and workplace charging.

The project saved the county significant costs via grants that were used to expand EV charging infrastructure including new service panels, conduits, and wiring.  

The County installed 15 charging ports under the program.  

CoPIRG supported the adoption of a vehicle electrification program at Xcel because of their role as an electricity provider and the benefits that will flow to ratepayers when more EVs are plugged in and sharing the costs of the overall system.

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Project cost comparison with Xcel program - Michael Wurzel, Summit County
 

 

The project has also brought needed visibility to EVs in the county, highlighting both their viability in the mountains as well as their value in the fight against climate change.  

Fort Collins - An Electric Vehicle Readiness Roadmap ties together priorities, policies, and strategies to hit key milestones

Amanda Mansfield, Transportation Coordinator for the City of Fort Collins presented the City’s Electric Vehicle Readiness Roadmap, sharing key strategies they have implemented to move toward their goal of 100% electric transportation.

Key accomplishments include updating public charging infrastructure, electrification of municipal vehicles, updating building codes, and increasing access to e-bikes and e-scooters.  

Additionally, Mansfield stressed the importance of aligning with other city and statewide plans, such as the Colorado EV Plan of 2020 and the City’s master plan and legislative policy agenda.  

 

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Strategies for transportation electrification - Amanda Mansfield, City of Fort Collins

 

Fort Collins continues to pursue additional capacity at the city around EVs moving forward, including hiring an full-time EV coordinator and expanding community outreach.  

Ambitious Goals Require All Hands on Deck with Local Governments Well-Placed to Lead the Way

To get to a 100% clean, electric-powered transportation system we’ll need all hands on deck. 

Here in Colorado, Governor Polis has set an ambitious goal of reaching nearly 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. 

In addition, the state legislature recently passed SB21-260, which will pump approximately $734 million into electric vehicle infrastructure over the next ten years. 

Xcel Energy and other utilities are also in the midst of implementing electrification programs helping to incentivize businesses, local governments, transit agencies, school districts, and residents to make the switch to electric vehicles. 

But despite those big goals, policies and utility involvement, more needs to be done and cities and counties will play a critical role. 

On September 28th, 2021 the City of Longmont became Colorado’s eighth GoEV City.  I hope the success of the cities and counties shown here will inspire others to make the commitment to a zero-emission transportation future.  

I’m eager to work with any local government that’s interested in electrification. Please don’t hesitate to contact me. 

Alexandra Simon
Advocate, CoPIRG
Alexandra Simon

Author: Alexandra Simon

Advocate, CoPIRG

(203) 536-1819

Started on staff: 2018
B.A., magna cum laude, University of Pennsylvania; MPA, Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy, New York University

Alex is an advocate on Colorado-based campaigns to promote a healthier, cleaner and safer world. She previously served as the Director of Strategic Planning for The Public Interest Network. Alex lives in Denver, where she enjoys hiking, skiing and seeing live music.