September 10, 2021 | ACTIVE LIFE | Daniel Soares | Photo by Oliver Kraft
In the Centennial State, where wildfires and water shortages have made climate change an undeniable fact of life, targets for emission reduction are at last being set. With a state-wide goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040 and a 90% reduction in greenhouse gasses, Colorado Springs has begun to electrify.
Recently, Gov. Jared Polis enacted a zero-emission mandate, which set an expectation to have Colorado drivers switch from gas to electric vehicles (EVs) by the end of the decade. In order to meet this mandate, the government of Colorado Springs convened last year to lay the foundations of the Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan.
The plan, which is a collaboration between the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU), and the consulting company ICF, is intended to determine the needs and logistics necessary for making EVs the transportation of choice in Colorado Springs.
The three main goals of the readiness plan are as follows: One: Provide a roadmap for replacing all city vehicles with EVs. Two: Identify a strategy for public education about EVs. Three: Develop a plan for public and private EV charging infrastructure.
Colorado Springs is the largest city in the state in terms of square mileage, the second largest in terms of population, and is projected to experience a 59% increase in population by 2050.
There are currently only an estimated 2,000 EVs in Colorado Springs with only about 100 electric charging stations throughout the entire city, including three downtown garages. In a city with such a large physical and environmental footprint, there is glaring opportunity for improvement.
An increase in EV usage could also help the city improve its air quality. Colorado Springs’ eight-hour ozone standard has stayed consistent at about 0.070, which is categorized as “marginal” by the Environmental Protection Agency and borders on non-compliance.
So, why hasn’t Colorado Springs’ EV industry expanded yet? One significant reason is their larger price tag and logistical issues surrounding charging. While the cost of EVs is currently higher than that of traditional vehicles, The United States Department of Energy estimates that the cost per mile of EVs is about one-third that of gas-powered cars.
As EVs improve and the disparity in cost per mile continues to increase, Colorado Springs is hoping to invest in widespread EV infrastructure and make the switch to EVs a no-brainer for its citizens.
The plan, which has a budget of $250,000, officially launched in June 2020 and was scheduled to be finalized in August of 2021. It is currently still in the planning phase. Although the Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan hasn’t been able to meet its desired timeline, the city of Colorado Springs has shown other promising signs towards its clean energy agenda. Last week, the Drake Power Plant closed 14 years ahead of the initial schedule. The early shut down was the result of a city vote made last year.
The potential benefits for expanded EV usage is clear – but with delays, will the city follow through on its plans?