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Colorado EV Plan promises fast charging stations, huge ROI

Governor John Hickenlooper wants more Coloradoans driving electric vehicles and thinks he figured out how to make that happen.

Lorie Shaull

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper wants people to think of his state not just as a haven for legal marijuana and the subject of the best John Denver song, but as a leader in electric vehicle adoption and clean transportation. To accomplish this, he has put forth the Colorado EV Plan, which will serve as a roadmap to widespread electrification.

Colorado governer John Hickenlooper wants his state to get serious about EV fast charging infrastructure.

Brent Lewis/Getty Images

The Colorado EV Plan, which was developed by the Colorado Energy Office, the Regional Air Quality Council, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Department of Transportation, outlines several strategies for the state to increase the number of electric vehicles on its roads. The most critical of these would see a dramatic increase in the number of public fast-charging stations, something the Centennial State sorely lacks at the moment.

The plan will help bring Colorado in line with the Intermountain West Electric Corridor, which was laid out as part of a memorandum of understanding between Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. A portion of the money for the plan will come from the Volkswagen diesel cheating settlement, to which Colorado is entitled $68.7 million.

The projected returns on the state's investment in electric vehicle infrastructure seems optimistic, but hey it could happen right?

State of Colorado

Apart from clear blue skies and warm fuzzy feelings, what will the citizens of Colorado get out of this deal in the long term? According to projections by consultant MJB & A, they will see a return of nearly $45 billion by 2050. Colorado predicts that $29.1 billion will go back to Colorado drivers in the form of reduced vehicle operating costs, $4.1 billion will come back to electric utility customers in the form of reduced electric bills and lastly $9.7 billion will find its way back to "society as a whole" as reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

It's hard to check the integrity of these numbers, but $45 billion is a lot of cheddar and we can only assume that those number crunchers were either a little "Rocky Mountain high" or huge fans of Joan Didion's 2005 work, "The Year of Magical Thinking." Still, having more EVs on the road is a good thing, and from an entirely nonenvironmental standpoint, they make sense in a high altitude environment like Colorado, where gas vehicles have to work harder due to the reduced air density.