Colorado Plans to Eliminate Emissions from Road Transportation

Colorado is moving ahead with a plan to get nearly 1 million electric vehicles (EV) on its roads by 2030 and, for the first time, has adopted a long-term goal of transitioning to 100 percent electric and zero-emission vehicles.

The state’s Energy Office recently released the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan 2020, an update to the 2018 EV plan that established a target of 940,000 EVs by 2030. The new plan retains that target and lays out a vision for a “large-scale transition of Colorado’s transportation system to zero emission vehicles.” That vision includes electrifying all light-duty vehicles and making all medium and heavy-duty vehicles zero-emission (including electric, hydrogen, and other zero emissions technologies).

This plan is the first time Colorado has set a goal to transition all vehicles to clean, zero-pollution energy. That’s a big deal,” Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, told the Colorado Sun.

Transportation pollution is a big concern in Colorado. “As a stark reminder of just how big a polluter cars and trucks can be, Colorado meteorology supervisor Scott Landes said … that nitrogen dioxide levels in Denver had decreased nearly 28 percent during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order,” CPR News reported. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nitrogen dioxide exposure can increase the risk of developing asthma and “potentially increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.”

As noted in the 2020 EV Plan, transportation is projected to be the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state of Colorado by this year. Transitioning to to nearly a million EVs by 2030 could result in an annual reduction of 3 million tons of climate pollution in the state. De-carbonizing the transportation sector is a key strategy for meeting Colorado’s targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent (below 2005 levels) by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050, targets that are outlined in a state climate action law passed last year.

Since the 2018 EV Plan was introduced, the state has taken steps towards increasing electric vehicle adoption. These steps include the following:

  • awarding a contract to ChargePoint for the build-out of EV fast-charging stations at 33 sites along Colorado’s major transportation corridors
  • allocating state investment to install 351 EV chargers across the state
  • using the state’s Volkswagen diesel settlement funds to support charging infrastructure and purchase zero emission buses
  • adopting a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standard in August 2019 that sets a minimum requirement zero-emission vehicle sales for automakers
  • more than doubling the number of EVs registered in Colorado from 11,238 in August 2017 to over 24,000 in June 2019.

Colorado’s EV Plan 2020 seeks to build on this progress. Pillars of the new plan include undertaking a gap analysis to identify charging station needs across the state, developing a roadmap to full electrification of the light-duty vehicle fleet, and formulating plans for transitioning medium-duty, heavy-duty, and transit vehicles to zero-emission vehicles.

The EC [Electrification Coalition] applauds Governor Polis for committing to speed the shift to EVs with the Colorado Energy Office’s EV 2020 plan,” said Ben Prochazka, National Director of the Electrification Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for electrifying transportation. “The plan establishes steps that will put nearly 1 million light-duty EVs on the road by 2030, prioritizes EVs for state fleets, and helps create a transition for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and transit buses — significantly reducing the economic, public health, and national security impacts of our oil dependency and setting an example for other states to follow.”

Matt Frommer of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project also praised the state’s leadership in a recent blog post: “We’re glad to see the Governor’s office continue to demonstrate leadership on the state’s climate and clean energy goals, even while dealing with the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic.”

Main image: Traffic along Interstate 70 in Colorado. Credit: Slideshow Bruce, CC BYNC 2.0

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