The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment today finalized its plan for how to invest nearly $70 million in fines paid by VW as part of a nationwide settlement of the company’s emissions cheating scandal. The plan will enable Colorado to encourage widespread, consumer adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and help clean up the state’s air quality.
The plan allocates funds for the following purposes:
$10.3 million for electric vehicle charging stations or hydrogen fueling stations;
$18 million for electric or alternative fuel transit buses;
$18 million for electric or alternative fuel trucks, shuttles and school buses;
$11.7 million as flexible funds that will be allocated to the areas above with the most demand;
$5 million to reduce diesel emissions in construction, agriculture, mining and industry;
$5.7 million in administrative costs.
The state also announced that it will be releasing a request for proposals for companies to build fast, electric-vehicle charging stations along Colorado’s major highways through the Alternative Fuel Colorado program. A study released last year by the City of Denver and the Regional Air Quality Council found that increased consumer adoption of EVs depends heavily on access to fast-charging sites along highways.
Will Toor, Transportation Program Director for the Southwest Energy Efficiency project said, “Colorado has adopted bold plans to get nearly a million electric vehicles on the roads by 2030 and to dramatically increase the number of electric buses. The VW investments announced this week are a major step forward for electrification of the transportation system.”
Statewide, public transit agencies also have expressed keen interest in shifting to electric buses. In metro Denver, for example, the Regional Transportation District already has purchased and deployed electric shuttle buses on downtown Denver’ 16th Street Mall. The Colorado Springs transit agency, Mountain Metro, has announced plans to start converting its fleet to electric buses. Boulder’s VIA Transit has announced plans to shift to 100 percent electric buses, too. Breckenridge just announced plans to buy electric buses. Funding from the VW settlement will help transit agencies make this transition, by paying the upfront cost difference between diesel and electric buses. This money will then allow transit agencies to benefit from the EV’s reduced costs for fuel and maintenance
Toor explained that ”the declining cost of batteries has made electric vehicles more available for large vehicles such as transit buses, school buses, and trucks. Colorado’s decision to invest in electric trucks and buses will accelerate this transition away from dirty diesels and towards a clean energy future.”
About SWEEP: The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.