5,000 miles of highways in the US west to be outfitted with fast chargers

Forget outfitting 2,000 miles of U.S. highways with electric vehicle charging stations. Why not go for 5,000?

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday said he and the governors of six other Western states have a plan to create a network of fast-charge stations that will ease range anxiety among electric vehicle drivers traveling along major transportation corridors in the region.

Eleven interstate highways — including Interstates 25, 70 and 76 in Colorado — were highlighted as initial target corridors in a network covering more than 5,000 road miles.

“This is an investment. Not just an investment of the future, but an investment in the brand of the Mountain West,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s about making us a hub for clean-energy innovation.”

The announcement, made during Hickenlooper’s welcome address to the National Governors Association’s Energy Innovation Summit in Denver, comes 10 months after he and the governors of Utah and Nevada agreed to build an EV charging network covering 2,000 miles of highway across the three states. Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and New Mexico are the other states taking part in the larger Regional Electric Vehicle West Plan.

More than 20,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are already on the road in member states, according to a joint news release. As of June, 10,000 electric vehicles had been registered in Colorado. The state has the fourth highest rate of people switching from gas-powered to electric vehicles in the nation. It helps that as of Jan. 1, new buyers in the state qualify for a $5,000 tax credit.

Major U.S. automakers are committed to growing EV numbers in the West and beyond. Ford CEO Jim Hackett told investors Tuesday the company will introduce 13 electrics or hybrids over the next five years, including a small electric SUV due in 2020. A day earlier, General Motors officials said the company expects to produce 20 electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2023. Eventually, the company wants its entire product line to run on alternative fuels.

“Really this is just a tipping point,” Hickenlooper said, pointing to advancements like Chevrolet achieving more than 235 miles of range on a single charge as steps that will lead to wider adoption of EV. “You put in these charging stations across the West and I think you really do end up with a different kind of future.”

The REV West Plan outlines five actions member states will work together to:

  • Coordinate station locations to maximize use and minimize inconsistency between charging infrastructure. Develop practices and procedures that will encourage more people to adopt electric vehicles, including addressing “range anxiety,” or the fear of running of out charge that is viewed as major barrier to getting people to give up traditional cars.
  • Develop operating standards for charging stations.
  • Look for ways to incorporate stations in planning and development processes, including through building codes and metering policies.
  • Encourage automakers to stock a variety of electric vehicles in participating states.
  • Collaborate on funding and finding opportunities for the network.

The governor’s office has said no new funding will be sought to spur development of the network in Colorado. The most notable source of existing funding in the state comes from the $68.7 million Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal settlement.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had committed to spend $10.3 million, or 15 percent, of the payout on zero-emissions charging stations over the next five years.

It would take 50 to 60 new fast-charge stations electrify the key Colorado corridors. The stations would cost between $150,000 and $200,000 each, officials say. The state is expected to leverage the Volkswagen money to attract private investment to help develop the charging corridors.

Denver officials recently unveiled plans to add 300 quick-charge stations around the city over the next two years, nearly tripling the number available now.

No timeline for creating the multi-state network has been set. But Hickenlooper said the purpose of the plan is to spur quick development. And he expects some friendly competition.

“Certainly, if Utah is building their stations faster than we are, I’m going to ask our people why,” he said.

One issue member states will have to contend with is the lack of standardized EV charging technology. Tesla has installed 951 fast-charge stations that can be used only by Tesla vehicles (unless other manufacturers want to opt in). GM this week promised an increase in the number of electric fast-charging stations in the U.S., which now total 1,100 from companies and governments, pledging its system would not be “walled off” from EVs made by other manufacturers, The Associated Press reported.

Hickenlooper said governments will have to pressure vendors to provide technology that is flexible and conforms with existing or emerging industry standards to ensure the stations aren’t obsolete three to five years down the road.

The time is now!

Beetle killed trees lie on the burned ground of the Beaver Creek Fire which continues to burn on August 23, 2016 in Walden, Colorado. The fire, which started June 19th, 2016, is approximately 24 miles northwest of Walden and is burning in heavy beetle killed timber in the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests and BLM lands. It has so far affected 37,381 acres and is 53% contained.
Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Beetle killed trees lie on the burned ground of the Beaver Creek Fire which continues to burn on August 23, 2016 in Walden, Colorado.

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

The proliferation of standing dead threes has forced firefighters to change tactics, sometimes cutting containment lines farther from the flames to avoid the danger of injury or death from falling trees.

A state-by-state look at the numbers of standing dead trees in 2015 compared with previous available totals:

Montana: 1.2 billion, up 159 million since 2010

Colorado: 834 million, up 153.2 million since 2010

Idaho: 814 million, up 76 million since 2010

Wyoming: 619 million, up 8.8 million since 2012

Washington: 593 million, up 24.3 million since 2011

Oregon: 571 million, down 7.7 million since 2010

California: 499 million, up 29.5 million since 2010

Utah: 436 million, up 30.9 million since 2010

New Mexico: 341 million, up 20.4 million since 2013

Arizona: 275 million, up 4.8 million since 2010

Nevada: 145 million, up 1 million since 2012

  • In this July 12, 2017, photo, ...
  • In this July 12, 2017, photo, ...
  • In this July 12, 2017, photo, ...
  • In this July 12, 2017, photo, ...
  • In this July 12, 2017, photo, ...
  • In this July 12, 2017, photo, ...
  • In this July 12, 2017, photo, ...
  • In this July 12, 2017, photo, ...

Dan Elliott, The Associated Press
1 of 6

In this July 12, 2017, photo, Ben Brack, a firefighter and public information officer, tests the stability of a beetle-killed tree at the site of a wildfire locally called the Keystone fire, near Albany, Wyo. The fire was burning in a dense forest of beetle-killed trees, which pose a safety hazard for firefighters because the trees, weakened by the bugs, topple more easily than living trees.