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Posts in Category: Transportation

To Untangle Its Traffic Mess, Colorado Can't Just Build More Lanes

Public transit, local needs, and biking and walking infrastructure crucial

The last time that Colorado raised the gas tax was in 1991, when a gallon of regular gasoline cost just over a buck. Since then, the gas tax rate has stayed flat at 18 cents per gallon, while the price of gas has more than doubled and inflation has cut the buying power of a dollar in half. The economic squeeze play over the past 25 years has left Colorado without enough money to maintain roads and bridges, invest in public transit, or create walk-able, bike-able communities.

Against this backdrop of inflation and stagnant taxes, the Colorado legislature now is debating how to fund transportation infrastructure and programs.

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Weaker Clean Car Rules Threaten Southwest’s Air, Public Health

Consumers wallets will be hit, too

The national clean car standards, which limit tailpipe emissions from cars, represent one of the biggest steps the federal government ever has taken to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The Obama administration adopted the clean air rules in 2012, when automakers agreed to a set of standards requiring them to gradually reduce pollution and improve fuel economy. Under this plan, by 2025 the average car would have about double the fuel economy and emit only about half the carbon pollution of cars on the road today. 

But now, the Trump administration proposes to undo these clean car standards and, in doing so, would jeopardize public health, the U.S. economy, and the environment.
 

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Colorado Adopts Ambitious Electric Vehicle Targets

Goal: Nearly 1 million EVs registered in the state by 2030

The state of Colorado has just released a bold new electric vehicle plan that builds on the state’s work to date and shows the way to an electrified future. Perhaps the most important goal in the plan is to go from about 13,000 EVs in Colorado at the end of 2017 to 940,000 by 2030.

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Students' Solar Decathlon vs. Real Market Homes:

How concept houses at college competition compare with what residential builders offer today
Students
The buzz at the 2017 Solar Decathlon proved infectious, thanks to the human energy and excitement of the college students worldwide who participated in the October event in Denver. And as a professional in energy-efficient buildings, I was impressed by what the young people demonstrated: new concepts, some pretty amazing technology, well-designed and cool-looking houses, and their willingness to "stretch the envelope" (pun intended). The competition also gave me an opportunity to reflect on ...
 

New Facts Underscore How Much Energy Efficiency Benefits the Southwest

SWEEP documents how utility programs help consumers, businesses and the environment
New Facts Underscore How Much Energy Efficiency Benefits the Southwest
SWEEP’s updated and just-published fact sheets show the benefits to consumers and the environment from energy efficiency programs implemented by electric utilities in five states: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. SWEEP’s full paper, reviewing the history and effects of these programs, can be read here. Some of the information deserves emphasis and is summarized in this blog. The fact sheets and paper demonstrate that electric utilities in the region have generated enormous ...
 

Colorado VW Plan Supports Transition to Electric Vehicles

State is accepting comments through October 13
Colorado VW Plan Supports Transition to Electric Vehicles
The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) has released a draft plan on how the state will allocate approximately $70 million in funding that the state will receive as part of the settlement of the VW emissions cheating scandal. The settlement funds are designed to reduce air pollution from vehicles, in order to mitigate the effects of the non-compliant, diesel-fueled Volkswagens. During a 2016 public comment period, the public overwhelmingly told the department ...
 

Don't Gut Federal Energy Efficiency Programs

Don
Federal energy efficiency programs within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are threatened with devastating budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration. Should citizens, businesses, and elected officials in the Southwest care? Absolutely! According to a 2017 DOE report, Southwestern states (AZ, CO, NM, NV, UT, and WY) are home to 123,000 energy efficiency jobs -- more jobs, in fact, than any other segment of the energy industry including oil ...
 

A Better Way to Help Denverites Power Electric Cars

SWEEP report offers specific steps that the city can take
A Better Way to Help Denverites Power Electric Cars
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on July 11, 2017, in which he pledged that Colorado would meet the Paris climate targets, and set goals for reducing emissions through more renewable energy, ramping up utility energy efficiency programs, making buildings greener, and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). In order to meet these emissions targets, the state will need to ramp up electric vehicle adoption, and do it fast. While the EV market in ...
 

Clearing the Air With Electric Cars

Colorado's sources for electricity cleaner than in other states
Clearing the Air With Electric Cars
Two of Colorado’s most important political leaders recently adopted plans that encourage greater adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), both as a strategy to help curb climate change and to improve the air that Denverites breath. Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on climate that includes the development of a statewide EV plan, while Denver Mayor Michael Hancock released a Mobility Action Plan, which calls for multiple steps to encourage EV adoption. Now, a new report ...
 

Which Segment of the Energy Industry Supports the Most Jobs in the Southwest?

Hint: It’s Not Fossil Fuels Production
Which Segment of the Energy Industry Supports the Most Jobs in the Southwest?
The Powder River Basin in Wyoming is the largest coal-producing region in the U.S. There are tens of thousands of oil and natural gas wells as well as over 1,900 wind turbines operating on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. Eastern New Mexico is a major oil and gas producing region, and large-scale solar power plants are sprouting up across the desert Southwest. But which segment of energy industry supports the most jobs in the energy-rich Southwest? Answer: It’s the energy efficiency industry, ...
 

How to Improve I-25 Traffic Without Spending Big Bucks

Use market forces to help highway travelers for the long-term
How to Improve I-25 Traffic Without Spending Big Bucks
Anyone who travels on highways in the Front Range knows that congestion is a major problem in the Denver metro area and, based on expected population growth over the next 30 years, it’s only going to get worse. The traditional solution, expanding the highway network to relieve congestion and accommodate additional demand, is both unaffordable and ineffective. The Colorado Department of Transportation has said it needs an additional $1 billion per year to maintain and expand the existing ...
 

Time for states to step up on clean transportation

States, cities can embrace EVs, add public transit
Time for states to step up on clean transportation
When President Donald Trump recently walked away from the Paris Climate Agreement, his decision spurred many states, cities and businesses nationwide to step up their own push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what the federal government does or doesn’t do. One key area for action is transforming America’s transportation systems. Cars and trucks are now the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Emissions from electricity generation are declining due to the ...
 

With electric car tax credits, all of Colorado benefits from cleaner air

But some state lawmakers want to cut useful program
With electric car tax credits, all of Colorado benefits from cleaner air
Colorado lawmakers are debating a proposal to eliminate tax credits that encourage consumers to buy cleaner, energy-efficient electric vehicles (EVs) and other alternative fuel vehicles. Opponents of the program, notably the Independence Institute and Americans for Prosperity, are feeding legislators incorrect information about how much most consumers can benefit from the program. Despite the opponents’ claims, EVs are not toys for the rich. More than three-quarters of EVs sold in Colorado have ...
 

How Can the Southwest’s Communities Make Installing EV Charging Easier and Cheaper?

Cities and Counties Adopt EV Ready Codes
How Can the Southwest’s Communities Make Installing EV Charging Easier and Cheaper?
The best time to plan for an electric vehicle (EV) charging station is before most consumers even know that they will want one. Communities that require builders to install EV charging capabilities in new apartments, single-family homes and commercial offices will make the transition away from gasoline-powered cars easier for their residents. Moreover, these 21st Century building codes will encourage consumers to consider purchasing EVs and help the communities take an important step toward a ...
 

Doubling Down on Energy Efficiency

States, local governments must pick up the slack
Doubling Down on Energy Efficiency
On the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration as 45th President, he has nominated Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator, and Rick Perry as Energy Secretary. If the adage "personnel is policy" holds true, energy efficiency and clean energy will face a tough four years with respect to federal policy. While it's too early to know what specific actions the Trump Administration will take, it's reasonable to assume that the Clean Power Plan will fall by the wayside; use ...
 

Blame inflation, not fuel efficiency, for potholes and rickety bridges

Rising prices drain road funds 1,000 times more than electric cars
As in many states across the country, in Colorado and Nevada the demand for funding to maintain and improve roadways outstrips revenue dedicated for this purpose. At a legislative hearing in December 2016, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) said it needed $1 billion per year in additional funding for the maintenance and expansion of the state’s roadways. In Nevada, the state highway fund already runs significant deficits, which are expected to increase to nearly $300 ...
 

Huge VW Settlement Can "Electrify" Transportation

In the Southwest, potential $29 million for EV charging stations, $164 million for electric buses
Huge VW Settlement Can "Electrify" Transportation
When Volkswagen was caught systematically cheating on emissions tests, making their diesel vehicles look much cleaner than they actually are, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit for violations of the Clean Air Act. The company and the DOJ have reached a partial settlement, which is expected to be approved by a federal judge in October. The settlement includes approximately $10 billion in compensation to owners of noncompliant VWs, but also includes $4.7 billion that could help to ...
 

Colorado Needs New Policies to Provide Funding for Bike, Bus, Rail and Ped Travel

New Report Provides Rationale

A new report released by the CoPIRG Foundation and Southwest Energy Efficiency Project makes the case that transportation funding needs to be allocated to other modes of travel besides highways. This investment could come from reallocating a portion of existing federal, state and local transportation funding and as part of any new transportation funding plan. It contends that Colorado would benefit from investing $1 billion per year in transit, biking, and pedestrian infrastructure and services in order to meet the demands and challenges of the state’s shifting demographics and growing population.  

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Colorado Hits the Accelerator for Electric Vehicles!

Colorado Hits the Accelerator for Electric Vehicles!Colorado has strengthened its claim to being a national leader in promoting electric vehicles with the passage of HB 1332 legislation that is designed to make the state income tax credit for electric vehicles more effective at increasing EV sales. The bill makes two major changes – simplifying the tax credit, and making the credits assignable, allowing them to function more like a point of sale rebate. The Washington Post  and Time Magazine  describe this bill as making Colorado the best state to buy a new electric car.

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How to Double or Triple Electric Vehicle Sales in Your Community

Are you interested in doubling or tripling electric vehicle sales in your area? Communities across the Southwest have found an innovative way to significantly increase electric vehicle sales: a group purchase program that provides a time limited opportunity for their residents to get discounts on purchasing an electric vehicle.  The results of these programs are impressive.  In order to help other communities in Colorado and across the nation boost sales of EVs and reap the benefits of zero-emission vehicles, the Colorado Energy Office has developed a handbook which provides a program template.  SWEEP developed a case study that tells the story of Boulder County's program.  This blog provides an overview and links to both the handbook and case study.

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How Leading Utilities are Embracing Electric Vehicles

A business owner has the chance to expand her market and immediately increase sales.  She jumps at the opportunity, right? Electric vehicles (EVs) offer electric utilities exactly that type of opportunity to increase sales. And leading utilities across the United States are taking notice and embracing plug-in cars. This blog highlights several key points from a new SWEEP report that describes the opportunities and challenges that electric vehicles present to utilities.  It reviews why utilities should embrace EVs and what leading utilities across the country are already doing to increase adoption of electric vehicles. 

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