Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy, Colorado’s two investor-owned utilities, filed applications last week seeking to support plans for widespread electrification of transportation.

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) may conduct hearings on these proposals later this year. The proposals are intended to drive the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) through the deployment of 

  • Customer-focused education; 
  • Partnerships;
  • EV charging rates; and
  • Rebates/incentives for public and in-home chargers. 

By 2030, Colorado hopes to have 940,000 EVs on the road to bolster Colorado as a national leader in vehicle electrification. 

Last year, Colorado’s electric vehicle legislation, Senate Bill 077 (SB 077), was enacted to promote the electrification of transportation. SB 077 also states that in order to support the widespread transportation electrification within the PUC’s service area, public utilities cannot file proposals any later than May 15, 2020, and every three years after. 

Compressed and liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, as well as by-products are able to be sold for use in alternative fuel vehicles, and doing so is not subject to regulation by a public utility under SB 077. 

After the implementation of SB 077, there was a push by the Colorado Energy Office to produce and use renewable natural gas (RNG) in medium- and heavy-duty transportation, as relying more on RNG could displace conventional natural gas and diesel use in transportation.

SB 077 established several criteria for evaluating the proposals, including: seek to maximize benefits and minimize costs; improve use of the electric grid; increase access to electricity as a transportation fuel; ensure safety and reliability; contribute to air quality standards; foster competition for charging; include transparent public reporting; and provide access for low-income customers.

EV futures are looking up, as several states have also turned their attention to policymaking and regulating for transportation electrification in the last few years. In 2018, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed 16 bills covering zero-emission vehicles, which included natural gas vehicles (NGV) and EVs. 

In 2019, New Mexico lawmakers passed House Bill 521 to expand the use of the electricity for transportation electrification. Washington also passed legislation related to EVs. Nine additional states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wyoming -- also passed legislation regarding registration fees for EVs to counteract reduced gasoline tax revenues.