The City of Denver will be building an electric vehicle (EV) charging station at the Smiley Branch Library near 46th Avenue and Utica St. this year as part of their push to build out electric car charging infrastructure in Denver. Mike Salisbury, Transportation Energy Lead for the Denver Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, Resiliency, detailed the new charging station, one of four that the city will be installing this year in Denver. It will be a Level 2 charging station. It is free to use and is capable of adding about 25 miles of range per hour of charging for a typical electric vehicle. The station can charge two cars simultaneously. It will be among one of the first public chargers in North Denver in addition to the many Level 2 chargers installed in newer office buildings along Platte St and a Level 2 Charger on the Regis University campus, according to plugshare.com. It also joins two groups of Level 3 Chargers bordering North Denver at the Target in Edgewater as well as the REI Flagship Store. For a fee, these high speed chargers are capable of charging most newer EVs from near empty to 80% full in 20-40 minutes while their driver shops, dines, or goes for a walk nearby .
Salisbury said Denver is installing the charging station at Smiley because the city is “very focused on what they need to do across the economy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We see electric vehicles as one very important piece of the puzzle as far as reducing emissions from the transportation sector, the second largest source of emissions in the city of Denver and is growing unfortunately. We obviously want to give Denver residents options to drive less with walking, biking transit, and active transportation. But recognizing that vehicles for better or worse- there are about 700,000 of them registered in the city of Denver- that people are going to keep on using vehicles. So as much as possible, we’re trying to electrify those vehicles. We did an analysis a couple years ago, it shows a ⅓ reduction in emissions, for a new EV compared to a gasoline vehicle.” The city hopes to have 30% of vehicles be electric by 2030 and 100% be electric by 2050. Salisbury also noted that those electric vehicles will continue to get cleaner as Denver’s electric production gets cleaner and the electric grid transitions to more renewable energy sources. The city is trying to amplify the EV charging infrastructure to make it easier for people to make the switch. He mentioned that Xcel Energy has funding for business owners to install chargers, and that the Colorado Energy Office also has grants for businesses and nonprofits to install chargers as well.
Danny Katz, Executive Director of Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG), and Berkeley resident, applauds the city for putting in more charging stations around the neighborhood. He notes that most people fuel their EVs when they are at home. “In North Denver a lot of homes have garages, so a lot of people have access to charging their cars overnight if they do make the switch to having an electric vehicle. However, there are some people in the community that don’t have access to off street parking.” Katz says that we’ll really need to focus on putting in chargers at libraries, businesses, churches, and schools to allow people without garages to have access to charge.
Katz echoes the city’s goals around electrification of cars citing, “There are two major reasons we should completely transition to an electric power transportation system. The first is pollution, electric vehicles have no tailpipes. So all the pollution that comes from tailpipes, whether it is pollution that leads to climate change, or whether it’s the pollutants that fuel our dirty air or ozone alerts. We eliminate that pollution.” Even taking into account some of the electricity for EVs being produced by coal and natural gas power plants, those indirect emissions still are less polluting than gas powered vehicles. Katz says that “the second major reason is that it’s way better for consumers in terms of cost.” He notes the cost of powering an electric vehicle is around one third of the cost of a gas powered vehicle, or the equivalent of paying about $1 per gallon. “And then you see huge savings in the maintenance, so there are just a lot less parts. We completely remove oil changes from the equation, so you don’t have to do oil changes anymore. So it’s not only really good for the environment, but it’s also much better for consumers strictly from the cost of driving.” Katz also mentions another benefit as more EVs means more money going into the electric grid. “There are studies to show that if we switch to a transportation system powered 100% powered by electricity, not only do individual consumers see a benefit when they use their vehicles, but we all see a benefit on our utility bill as the overall cost of your utility bill comes down.”
Despite the upside, Katz notes that we can’t meet our climate goals on a transition to EVs alone. “EVs have a lot of benefits, and there are a lot of reasons why we should fully embrace them and dive in, and as quickly as possible move to an electric vehicle future. But that is not the silver bullet, it is not the single solution. It’s one of many tools we need to use. If we are thinking about climate change, it will not be enough to fully tackle our climate problem. We just have to reduce the amount of driving we are doing and allow people to get around without a car as well as switch to electric vehicles if we are going to tackle climate pollution in our transportation system.” Katz asserts that the city should invest more in multimodal, and specifically public transit to hit climate change goals, so people can use transit to do more of their day to day trips. “We need transit service in NW Denver where everyone is within a couple of blocks of a bus that comes every 10 minutes. And is moving us around the neighborhood to the places we love. That’s really what is missing.”