City of Denver commits to adding 200 electric cars by 2020 – The Denver Post

Posted: Thursday, November 10, 2016

The city of Denver plans to add 200 plug-in electric vehicles to its fleet by 2020, saving the city an estimated $800,000 over the next decade and cutting 2,300 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the cars’ lifetimes.

The city said it will start replacing its out-of-service cars with the more sustainable alternative in 2018, said Tyler Svitak, energy and transportation administrator with Denver’s Department of Environmental Health. Denver currently has three electric vehicles in its fleet.

“Ultimately, it’s going to have a lot of benefits for the city,” Svitak said. “Both financially and from the environmental perspective, it puts the city in a leadership position.”

Denver is among 24 state and local governments joining the Obama administration to boost public and private investments in plug-in electric vehicles, according to a White House statement.

Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement that the electric vehicles will help move Denver closer to its 2020 Sustainability Goals.

The Obama Administration’s recent push to add clean cars to the roads comes as more electric models are released, battery costs decline and charging stations continue to pop up. In Colorado, the number of registered electric vehicles grew to 6,341 cars in December 2015 from 20 cars in 2011.

Svitak said it’s tricky to predict how much the new cars will cost but thinks each electric vehicle will be $4,000 more than a typical gasoline replacement car. The city expects to receive a grant from Charge Ahead Colorado that would pay for 80 percent of that additional cost.

Despite the higher price, the city estimates each electric car will likely save Denver $4,800 over its lifetime because they don’t require fuel and have fewer maintenance needs. A typical car in the city’s fleet lasts seven years. Svitak said the new cars will likely last the same or more.

The city hopes to use part of the $61.3 million given to Colorado from the VW settlement fund to offset the costs of adding charging stations.

The Department of Environmental Health says emissions from the transportation section are Denver’s leading source of air pollution and the second leading source of greenhouse gasses.

“Denver’s decision to add new electric vehicles is a great decision,” said Danny Katz, director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group. “Ultimately, we need a system that produces zero emissions. That’s where we need to head, and electric vehicles are the way to get there.”

Southwest Energy Efficiency Project spokesman Will Toor said Denver’s latest move adds to a series of recent decisions that have made electric vehicles more viable in the city, which Ford named one of the “most electric vehicle-ready cities” in the U.S.

“I think if you had gone back a couple of years ago and asked about where the hotspots were on what was happening with electric vehicles, Denver wasn’t on the list,” Toor said.

But now Toor says the city is on its way to becoming an electric vehicle hub. Some of the recent changes that Toor said have been instrumental in the shift were new building codes that require garages to support electric vehicles, a $5,000 tax credit applied to electric vehicles at the time of purchase and multiple cities and counties offering purchasing agreements.

“I think that we see a broad set of actions that are being taken that are going to make the Denver area one of the best places in the country for electric vehicles,” Toor said.

Toor, Katz and Svitak said a major barrier to electric vehicle adoption is the real and perceived lack of infrastructure for charging the cars. But Denver’s new fleet of electric vehicles and the coming charging stations to accommodate them can help change that,

“The more we can break down barriers by providing charging stations in convenient places, the more that Colorado can continue to choose electric vehicles,” Katz said.

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