This time of year, nonprofit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council normally is planning the popular annual Electric Vehicle Ride-n-Drive. Although that hands-on event will not take place this spring, electric vehicle programs and offerings remain active.
The tremendous improvements in air pollution across the world during the pandemic in part due to decreased driving of fossil fuel-powered combustion engines provides clear vision that progress to clean up transportation needs to continue. Vehicles are a major source of soot and smog pollution that harm public health and increase respiratory risks.
Among the current electric vehicle efforts, a collaboration of Western Slope entities supports an annual group discount EV buy running through June 15. To learn more, visit garfieldcleanenergy.org/ev2020. Sales representatives are happy to show the cars virtually on video calls and can deliver vehicles if needed. Significant federal and state tax credits for EVs are still available.
Stefan Johnson, a ReCharge Colorado EV coach with nonprofit CLEER in Carbondale, said that while gas prices currently are low, oil markets are notoriously volatile, while more stable electricity rates allow owners of battery electric vehicles to more accurately predict total ownership costs.
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“The latest generation of EVs offers improved ranges often exceeding 200 miles,” Johnson said, “making them perfectly compatible with the needs of rural commuters, even in winter.”
Although 80% of EV charging occurs from home, work to install a grant-funded, level three fast charger for public use in Yampa, Craig and Steamboat Springs should be completed by early fall, according to the Colorado Energy Office. The Steamboat Grand is on tap to install this year the 10th public charger in the city, and Colorado is home to 811 public charging stations so far.
In April, the city of Steamboat Springs released a request for consultant proposals for a grant-funded EV Readiness Plan in concert with the local Climate Action Plan. The state released an extensive Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan in April including a goal of a 50% increase in EV sales each year for the next decade.
Routt County currently is home to 68 registered plug-in vehicles, while Colorado has 28,722 registered. Yet drivers still on the fence might consider the reminder that each gallon of gasoline includes about 87% carbon by weight and produces about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Suzie Romig is the energy outreach director at the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.