The Governor’s “Electric Bills”
Governor Polis has hit the ground running with his new administration, and the House and Senate are in a flurry with new legislation. Oil and gas regulation, minimum wage, and cryptocurrencies have all been addressed in proposed and signed bills, but there are a few others being tossed around regarding electric vehicles. The Denver public has spoken its concern about footing the bill via their taxes for infrastructure supporting electric vehicle development. The Capitol has heard those concerns, and has offered a bill that doesn’t allocate tax money. Senate Bill 77 proposes to remove road blocks from the state laws as they currently stand, the result being that utility companies would be cleared to build charging ports from which they can earn income to recoup their costs and make a profit. All monies would come from payment by the user, not from tax subsidies and the like. This is a far cry from spending taxpayer dollars to increase infrastructure. The Denver Business Journal quoted Senator Angela Williams as saying, “This bill will support our state’s movement toward electric vehicles in a way that accommodates our business communities as well as our long-term environmental goals.”
SB 77 appears to be extremely popular and is a bi-partisan effort. In addition to SB 77, Governor Polis has signed an executive order requiring departments within the state government to cooperate on policies related to electric vehicle proliferation. This Order does involve tax dollars in that it requires CDOT to allocate funds to supporting electric vehicle infrastructure statewide. This Order’s goal is to solve the problem plaguing electric vehicle sales: owners have very few places to plug in.
But not all of these funds CDOT will be allocating to the measure are coming from the pockets of taxpayers. The recent settlements from auto-makers — punishment for falsifying or cheating emissions testing — have been earmarked as a large contribution to the Governor’s efforts. The Order confirms that these settlements in their entirety will go towards this effort, which eases the contribution from Colorado citizens.
The Order also includes major steps in Colorado’s role in attacking environmental issues. This first step is accomplished through a mandate that the Department of Public Health and Environment propose to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission a minimum percentage law, requiring that a certain amount of vehicles sold in the state be zero-emissions. The Executive Order combined with SB 77 could work in conjunction to entice vehicle purchasers towards electric vehicles, especially when assured they will have ample places at which to charge. It is the goal of the Governor’s office to have roughly a million electric vehicles on Colorado roads by 2030. There still remains one barrier to purchasing in Colorado, however. Many Coloradans prefer SUVs, both out of necessity for winter safety and out of enjoyment for mountainous activities. Yet SUV’s have traditionally been ignored by alternative-fuel and electric vehicle manufacturing. There is hope on the horizon, though, with several auto-makers eyeing steps in the eco direction. There is even a Jeep Wrangler hitting the market with an alternative-energy component this year.
It remains to be seen whether these state measures will continue to add pressure to the industry to create more options for consumers — options they actually want to buy — but it appears the legislation is picking up steam and we may be looking at a future in Colorado that is certain to include electricity as the new gas. For more on issues affecting Colorado, see our other articles here or find out more about us here.