Colorado EV

An electric-vehicle charging station in Colorado.

Colorado's investor-owned utilities recently filed with the state's Public Utilities Commission their 2021-2023 transportation-electrification plans detailing how they intend to help the state reach its goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.

The ambitious goal was announced in the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan 2020, unveiled April 23 by the Colorado Energy Office (see CEM No. 1588). The Colorado Legislature in May 2019 passed SB 19-77 requiring the state's regulated electric utilities to file transportation-electrification plans with the Colorado PUC every three years starting May 15, 2020.

The plan from Xcel Energy subsidiary Public Service Company of Colorado, filed May 15, introduces a portfolio of 20 programs aimed at defraying customers' upfront EV adoption costs and increasing EV charging infrastructure in the state [20A-0204E]. Residential customers would receive a rebate for installing EV chargers in their homes and a time-of-use rate preferable for EV charging. Commercial customers would be eligible under the plan for similar rebates if they chose to own the equipment. Another option for commercial customers would be for the utility to install and own charging units for an additional fee on the utility bill.

PSCo also plans to develop a school bus electrification program to be funded by proceeds from the sale of carbon offsets. Xcel proposed a $102-million budget for investments across the plan's three-year lifespan, with a revenue requirement of $7.7 million in 2021 translating to 23 cents per month on the average residential bill.

Jack Ihle, Xcel's director of regulatory and strategic analysis, said in May 15 testimony to the Colorado PUC that the company estimates its plan would increase EVs in its service territory from 24,000 to 100,000 by 2023, with anticipated continued growth to more than 450,000 by 2030. "With this TEP, the company positions itself as a key partner to advance state climate policy in both the power and transportation sectors," he said.

Black Hills Energy's Ready EV plan, filed May 8, allocates nearly $400,000 in its first year to transportation electrification. The utility estimates the plan would result in a 414.2-ton decrease in carbon dioxide emissions in 2021 [20A-0195E]. The Black Hills plan includes progressive budget increases over the three-year period due to anticipated growth in EV adoption, the utility said. EV customers would also be eligible to pay new time-of-use EV charging rates.

Unlike Xcel, Black Hills' plan does not include ownership of electric-vehicle supply equipment, such as charging stations or charging docks. "Ultimately, Black Hills' exploration led it to conclude that it is not in the best interests of its customers for Black Hills to own EVSE at this time" the utility said in its filing. "A primary risk in Black Hills' ownership of EVSE is cost and rate impacts to customers, including risks of stranded costs. These potential cost issues to customers are avoided by Black Hills' decision not to seek ownership of EVSE." The utility's plan would instead offer rebates to customers who purchase EVSE from qualified vendors. Black Hills' plan also does not address specific programs for fleet electrification.

If approved by the Colorado PUC, the plans could bring the state considerably closer to its clean-energy goals. Months before the passage of SB 19-007, Gov. Jared Polis in January 2019 issued an executive order that encouraged "electric utilities and the Public Utilities Commission to work towards implementing policy and programming to support widespread transportation electrification." The Legislature, in passing HB 19-1261, furthered those goals by establishing a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050 compared with 2005 levels.

Colorado's plans got a boost from a $68.7-million payout from Volkswagen as part of the 2016 settlement for the carmaker's earlier violations of the Clean Air Act.

Aria covers California and the Southwest from Albuquerque. Her work has appeared in a variety of popular and academic publications.