5:29am

Thu July 25, 2013
Business Report

NoCo Group Hopes To Drive EV Demand With More Spots To Charge

An organization working to encourage greater use of electric vehicles is heading up an effort to add more than a dozen charging stations throughout Fort Collins and Loveland.

Erin O'Toole talks with NCBR publisher Jeff Nuttall during Morning Edition about a new round of EV charging stations planned for Fort Collins and Loveland

Drive Electric Northern Colorado represents a coalition of companies in the electric-vehicle supply chain. 

Northern Colorado Business Report publisher Jeff Nuttall says the group decided on Fort Collins and Loveland after a nationwide search of cities.

"They believe Northern Colorado residents would be open to the idea of driving electric vehicles, while serving as a model that other cities could identify with," Nuttall says.

Fort Collins plans to install up to 10 new charging stations, at a cost of several thousand dollars each. Loveland plans to upgrade two existing stations, and will install an additional four stations -- two of them for city use only.

Interview highlights:

The idea behind this is to reduce so-called “range anxiety” for people thinking of switching to electric vehicles. What does that mean?

“To give you an example, we talked to a Fort Collins Realtor who drives clients around in his Chevy Volt, which gets around 35 miles per charge. He charges that vehicle at home. He says it’s perfect for driving people around Fort Collins, but once he leaves the city, he worries that he could run out of juice.

[To help alleviate this concern] Fort Collins is going to install as many as 10 new charging stations. Four of those are going to become available to the public at the end of the month. At least two more of the stations will be available by spring, although the city hasn’t determined when the others might be available.

In Loveland, the city plans to upgrade two existing stations. It will install an additional four stations, two of them for city use only.”

How much will all of this cost?

“The Fort Collins stations will cost several thousand dollars apiece. The city has budgeted 100,000 in capital project dollars and another $25,000 from a state grant for purchase and installation.

The city of Loveland has budgeted $50,000 for its project, which includes funding for promotional activities such as events, in addition to a $32,000 state grant.”

Doesn’t Fort Collins already have a few EV charging stations?

“That’s correct. Right now, both New Belgium and Odell Brewing have them. The city wants to install additional charging stations at businesses throughout town, so that people can plug in while shopping or having a cup of coffee.”

How much demand is there for these stations?

“According to the state Division of Motor Vehicles, only 137 electric vehicles are registered in Larimer County, and Weld County has just 44. That’s out of almost 200,000 registered passenger vehicles in Larimer and another 152,000 in Weld.

The state doesn’t currently track whether those electric vehicles are plug-ins. But that’s expected to change January 1, so the state can determine whether to collect a $50 highway use tax from EV owners.

The bottom line is that there’s a weak demand for these charging stations right now. The idea is to prime the pump, so to speak, to give the opportunity to people who want to drive environmentally friendly vehicles.”

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