The future is now: Denver plans for surge in electric cars

by | Feb 9, 2018 | Blog

Once a thing of the distant future, electric cars will dominate the automotive landscape very soon, if expert predictions hold true.

While less than 9,000 electric vehicles were registered in Colorado in 2017, state forecasters cautiously predict that number will jump to 300,000 by 2030, according to a recent article in the Denver Post. And the actual figure could go as high as 900,000.

How will this impact the city?

For one thing, notes the Post, “[u]tilities will need to supply more electricity and beef up the power grid to get the electrons where they need to go.”

It will also require a network of charging stations. Currently, 85% of electrical vehicle charging is done at home, usually in a garage, notes the Post. Existing outlets are known as Level 1, which can fully charge a Nissan Leaf in 22 hours. Level 2 chargers, available at home improvement stores for less than $500, can do the job in 6-8 hours. Level 3 chargers can cut the time to 45 minutes, but are much more expensive: $50,000 to $100,000.

The state has more than 500 Level 2 stations available to the public now and about 50 Level 3 stations. Denver recently installed its first parking meter charging station, a Level 2, on the corner of 14th and Bannock streets. “Anyone parking in one of the two spots next to the charger will only have to cover the usual costs for parking at a meter, with no added charge for the electricity,” notes the Post. (Unfortunately, the two-hour parking limit is not enough time to fully charge a car.)

Meanwhile, there’s talk of installing charging stations at workplaces, where cars can get a boost throughout the day. HOA’s will also need to consider charging options for homeowners.

Whatever the challenges, public officials are involved in extensive talks to meet them as the future quickly becomes the present. “By 2025,” notes the Post, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) predicts electric cars will cost the same or less than gasoline models…Once that happens, the economic arguments for going electric will prove compelling.”

Need further incentive? “Charging should be cheaper than gasoline,” RMI’s Chris Nelder told the newspaper, “and it should be sustainable.”

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