High Country Conservation Center launches plan to transition Summit County to electric vehicles

Besides Tesla stations in Silverthorne, there are also public electric vehicle chargers at Breckenridge Town Hall and Basecamp Retail Center / Whole Foods parking lot in Frisco, among others. The county is also looking to add more to the future redeveloped Frisco transit center.
Photo by Hugh Carey / Summit Daily Archives

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According to data presented by officials from the High Country Conservation Center to the Summit Board of County Commissioners, two-thirds of the world’s oil consumption is used to refuel cars and trucks. According to Jess Hoover, director of climate action for the nonprofit, transportation is the second biggest source of carbon emissions in Summit County.

That’s why the county is working with the conservation center to prepare an electric vehicle readiness plan to help reduce the impacts of transportation on the area.

“It’s a 10-year plan, and the goal of the plan is really to create strategies that will help us expand infrastructure and make it easier to drive an electric vehicle for residents and visitors to Summit County.” Hoover has said in the past.

At the Tuesday May 18 meeting, Hoover and Summit County Sustainability Coordinator Michael Wurzel presented the plan, which meets one of the goals set by the county. climate action plan reduce the county’s overall emissions by 80% by 2050.

Some strategies in the electric vehicle readiness plan correspond directly to a new or updated infrastructure. Some measures that Wurzel suggested to the county are expanding public charging and fleet charging infrastructure at county facilities; provide incentives for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure to residents, businesses and homeowners associations; as well as coordinating with Xcel Energy and other business partners to develop fast charging.

Wurzel also outlined some policy changes the county could implement, including expanding workplace charging infrastructure at county facilities, streamlining electric vehicle licenses, and the need to install. a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles with major renovations of commercial and multi-family buildings. Currently, the county needs an electric vehicle charging infrastructure with new commercial and multi-family buildings.

In addition to infrastructure projects and political programs, Wurzel also suggested that the county support municipal fleet managers throughout the transition by purchasing a pilot electric vehicle, developing a vehicle replacement plan that takes into account the total cost of ownership and creating an electric vehicle feasibility inventory to identify which vehicles are ideal for electric replacement.

“Right now, as you know, (electric vehicles) are more expensive initially, but we think the total cost of ownership will be lower,” Wurzel said.

Additionally, Wurzel pointed out that some areas of the county’s transit service could benefit from a transition to an electric vehicle. Wurzel explained that developing a bus electrification plan and the design and construction of a public transport administration building and bus depot to accommodate a 100% electric fleet could also be components. potential that the county could implement.

“I know Chris (Lubbers) (Summit County Transit Manager) and his staff are working on the design and construction of a transit administration building that could accommodate 100% of a fleet (of electric vehicles ) at some point in the future, which is really exciting. , because the simple calculation is that the more a vehicle travels, the more CO2 emissions it produces, ”said Wurzel. “So the first thing we can do in terms of reducing our CO2 emissions from the transportation sector in Summit County is to adopt (electric vehicles) in our transit vehicles.”

To conclude his presentation, Wurzel noted that community outreach should also be part of the electric vehicle readiness plan. This includes promoting the county as a friendly destination for electric vehicles, promoting discounts and incentives from the state and federal government as well as Xcel Energy, and providing educational opportunities on electric vehicles. electric vehicles for residents and businesses.

One such opportunity that Hoover suggested was to bring together residents who already own EVs for an event so that community members can ask questions and gain more experience with these types of vehicles.

“Driving and driving events (of electric vehicles) involve gathering local owners in a parking lot and then inviting the public to ‘kick the tires’ so to speak, check them out and talk to real people. drivers (of electric vehicles) and say, “ Can I really drive this at Peak 7 in the winter? “Do I need all-wheel drive? “Is it really cheaper? and just let people interact, ”Hoover said.

She mentioned that more often than not, having the chance to talk to other drivers increases the likelihood that other people will consider purchasing an electric vehicle. Hoover also mentioned that a Summit Ford sales representative said the company will let the county use its electric mustang for a similar event.

County commissioner Tamara Pogue asked about the city’s energy grid and its ability to support this kind of transition in the years to come. Hoover acknowledged that it was unable to collect specific data on the matter, but said Xcel officials said the company would have no problem supporting the plan.

County commissioners and staff are reviewing the plan and are expected to approve it in the coming weeks.

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