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Reminder to EV owners in the LPEA service area (La Plata and Archuleta Counties, Colorado)

On 1 July LPEA initiated a “demand charge” for residential electricity users. The point of the new charge is to “bend the curve” of electrical demand down at the time of day when high use is straining the capacity of the grid. EV owners are exceptionally well placed to assist in this endeavor, because most can automatically shift their charging time away from the peak demand period (4-9 PM) until later at night, when surplus electricity is available. Regardless of the new charge on our electric bills, this is a great idea, as shifting EV charging to times of power surplus will reduce the need to build more power plants. In most cases, this will not inconvenience EV users in the slightest; on the rare occasions when it might (you need to drive again in the evening after arriving home with a dead battery), tap the “override” button on your car’s charging display when you plug it in, and it will charge immediately.

The charge works as follows: LPEA calculates which single hour of a billing month you used the most electricity between 4 and 9 PM. It then charges you a high rate ($1.50/kwh) for that hour. Note that LPEA’s power supplier (LPEA has an electricity bill to pay too, for purchasing bulk electricity from Tri-State) charges 460 times more for the one hour of highest usage per month than it does for power used at other times. LPEA is passing a tiny fraction of this surcharge along to the consumer in an effort to nudge residential customers into shifting their usage to other times of day (https:\\lpea.coop/rates#collapse-accordion-173-4). Note that this extra charge does not apply to residential users that have already adopted time-of-use billing. Most EV users that do not have their own generation (e.g., photovoltaic [PV] panels) are likely to benefit from time-of-use billing. Most residents with PV panels with not benefit from time-of-use billing.

To automate your car’s charging schedule, open the charging options screen on your car’s dash and set the hours of 4-9 PM to be a “peak electricity” billing time, set the charging schedule to prioritize charging during off-peak hours, and then set the other options to ensure that your car will be charged by the time you are likely to next need it (typically 7 or 8 AM). All EVs have some menu choice to easily override this charging block-out, on specific occasions when overriding is desired. For example, on my Volt, a window pops up when I open the charging port, and the button across the bottom of the screen allows me to “override this time.” EV owners’ ability to shift electrical use to non-peak hours is one of the primary reasons why electric utilities love EVs.

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Thinking about a new Bolt or Leaf; now is the time

Once a year the Durango-based organization 4Core (Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency) puts together a “group buy” for electric cars sold at a sharp discount. In exchange for placing a large order, the dealers drop prices for those buying through 4Core (contact: Laurie@4CORE.org). The Durango Nissan dealer has consistently reduced prices by thousands of dollars for those buying a Leaf, and most non-Tesla EV owners in the Four Corners are Leaf-owners as a result. This year, in addition to great discounts on Leafs ($3000 off from Nissan, $1000 off from Nissan of Durango, and eligibility for a federal tax credit of up to $7500), Laurie has cajoled Morehart-Murphy Chevrolet into offering impressive discounts on 2020 Bolts: $8500 off from GM; $1000 off from Morehart-Murphy, and eligibility for a Colorado tax credit of up to $4000. These are exceptional discounts, unlikely to be repeated, available through the end of July

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Colorado’s New EV Plan

Colorado rolled out their 2020 EV plan on Earth Day! A lot has happened since the state’s first EV Plan came out in 2018. According to the Colorado Energy Office:

  • The number of EVs registered in Colorado more than doubled from 11,238 in August 2017 to over 24,000 in June 2019,
  • Awarded a contract to ChargePoint for the build-out of EV fast-charging stations at 33 sites along Colorado’s major transportation corridors.
    • We’re still waiting for the SW Colorado fast chargers planned under this award to be installed in Cortez, Durango, Silverton and Pagosa Springs. I’m told they should be in by this summer, but Covid19 may have further stalled progress.
  • Adoption of a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standard in August 2019.

I haven’t had a chance to read the plan yet, but you can find Colorado’s 2020 EV Plan here. The vision for the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan 2020 is:

Large-scale transition of Colorado’s transportation system to zero emission vehicles, with a long-term goal of 100% of light-duty vehicles being electric and 100% of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles being zero emission. 

Colorado EV 2020 webpage

This will be accomplished by taking actions to meet five goals: 

  • 1) Increasing the number of light-duty EVs to 940,000 by 2030
  • 2) Developing plans for transitioning medium-duty (MDV), heavy-duty (HDV) and transit vehicles to ZEVs
  • 3) Developing an EV infrastructure goal by undertaking a gap analysis to identify the type and number of charging stations needed across the state to meet 2030 light-duty vehicle (LDV), MDV and HDV goals
  • 4) State government agencies meeting directives and goals related to EVs from the updated Greening State Government Executive Order
  • 5) Developing a roadmap to full electrification of the light-duty vehicle fleet in Colorado

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New Mexico Charges Up EV Infrastructure!

Some great Earth Day news from New Mexico for EV drivers! New Mexico awarded the maximum amount allowed under the Volkswagen settlement agreement, 2.7 million, for electric vehicle charging infrastructure projects. More than 116 new charging stations will be built in 23 of New Mexico’s 33 counties.

In a rural state like New Mexico, installing charging infrastructure is critical to encouraging and increasing the use of electric vehicles, resulting in fewer emissions and better air quality, as well as decreasing the state’s contribution to global warming.

NMED’s VW Settlement Funding Recipient Announcement

The chargers planned for the Four Corners area include:

  • Farmington – Level 2 at Farmington Workforce Development Connection,
  • Five DC Fast Chargers (DCFC) and 11 Level 2 chargers for various municipalities and the Picuris and Taos Pueblos in the Kit Carson Electric Coop service area,
  • Santa Fe – Several new Level 2 locations,
  • Albuquerque – Many new Level 2 locations, including the UNM Hospital and UNM Campus, and DCFCs at the Sunport Airport and Bernallio Road Runner Station,
  • Los Alamos – DCFC and a Level 2 at the White Rock Visitors Center,
  • AND forty-nine new DCFC stations across the state.

The Earth Day Announcement didn’t include a timeline for the installation of these charging stations. Keep an eye on PlugShare over the next year to see where they pop up.

Here’s a link to the complete list of charging station locations. And here’s a link to NM Environment Department’s full announcement.

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April DEVC Newsletter – with CO Legislative Updates

A gathering of Teslas in Durango, CO

I hope everyone is weathering the Covid 19 shutdowns well, and if you’re able, helping those who aren’t in whatever ways you can. It’s saddening to see how many workers deemed essential to our economy are the same workers who have no or limited health insurance and paid sick leave. It’s my hope that when this time of crisis is over, we re-evaluate how we value and reward people’s work, whether it’s a migrant farm worker picking our fruits and vegetables in the field, the person behind the cash register or stocking the shelves at our grocery stores and pharmacies, people who give care and comfort to our elderly and children, or the janitorial and cleaning staff that keep our public buildings and medical centers clean and sanitary.

One thing remaining consistent this month is the arrival of the Denver Electric Vehicle Council’s newsletter. It includes a section on Colorado Legislative Update related to EVs which I greatly appreciate for letting me know when to make my voice heard in the statehouse on EV-related issues. I also enjoy reading about what other EV groups and related businesses are doing in other parts of the state.

In this issue, David at DEVC asks if it’s time to retire the newsletter. I hope it continues in some form. I like the pdf format as a document I can scan over and read the items that catch my eye. Please take a minute to look this one over and email David your feedback on if and how you’d like him to continue the newsletter. You can also leave a comment on this post if that’s easier. I’ll make sure David gets your feedback.

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EVs under threat from COVID?

Today’s New York Times (10 March 2020) contains two articles about EVs. Although the articles appear independently, they speak to each other. In the automotive section is one entitled “Tesla’s Success in Europe Catches Industry Off Guard”. It notes that the Model 3 is, after only a few months on the European market, the third-highest selling car in Europe, “outselling competing models by BMW, Mercedes, and Audi.” In contrast, the coronavirus news section of the Times highlights the slowing economy and European government efforts to stimulate demand: “Oliver Zipse, the chief executive of BMW, said last week that European governments should put less pressure on automakers to stop selling cars with internal combustion engines….The most important thing the government should do is not prematurely rule out some kinds of propulsion.”

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CO Legislators Need to Hear From You Today, Sunday 3/8/20, or Monday morning – And Insight from CO Senators Against the EV Bill.

Happy Rural Colorado EV Drivers in Durango, CO

Two bills to speak up on here. Sorry for the late notice! One is HB 20-1155, which requires home builders to offer buyers of newly constructed homes options to install electric wiring for EV chargers and solar. No one is making anyone actually DO anything – just making sure buyers of new homes are reminded to consider if they want these facilities at the moment when it would be easiest to add the wiring to their homes. Write to your State Representative in this case – You can find them at: https://leg.colorado.gov/findmylegislator

The second is SB20-167, which creates a new exception that allows the ownership, operation, or control of a motor vehicle dealer if the manufacturer makes only electric motor vehicles and has no franchised dealers of the dealer’s line-make. This exception should appease Senators, such as the one quoted below, that this bill won’t hurt existing car dealers. Both bills are described in the pdf below. This bill is now headed to the House. See Bob Andersen’s comment below for who to contact.

After I wrote my State Senator, Don Coram of CO senate district 6, I got the response below from Senator Ray Scott, of senate district 7, which covers Mesa County, CO. I assume it also reflects Mr. Coram’s views, because he didn’t respond to me independently.

A main reason why I believe this bill is unnecessary is that Tesla, with a Colorado dealers license, has done just fine. I do believe there is a future for electric vehicles in certain markets, but they leave much to be desired for rural consumers and commercial applications. With so many current dealers already selling electric vehicles I see no need to destroy the current franchise agreements. That being said, the way that SB20-167 is currently written, I do not believe it would be in the best interest of the motoring public. 

Ray Scott, Colorado Senator SD 7

Even if you don’t make the deadline to comment on the bills above, it would be worth contacting your rural Colorado senator to let them know you are a rural consumer, their constituent, and that an electric vehicle meets your needs well and you’d appreciate more EV choices from dealers and local support for charging infrastructure. Unless you drive a Tesla with their distinctive look, most people and senators probably don’t even recognize your car as an EV. They likely are not aware of how many EV drivers reside in their districts.

Contact Senators Don Coram at don.coram.senate@state.co.us and Ray Scott at scottforcolorado@gmail.com. Write them both since they seem to be voting as a block on this one.

Thanks go again to J. David McNeil of the Denver Electric Vehicle Council for keeping an eye on the Colorado state legislature!

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CO Event- GHG Emissions Road Map & Transportation Electrification

From the folks at 4CORE: Will Toor, the Director of the Colorado Energy Office. Weds. March 11th at La Plata County Administration Building from 1:30- 4pm. A Ride and Drive will be happening simultaneously in the parking lot from 2-3:30pm…it’s all free!

EV owners are welcome to come to the Ride and Drive, they just can’t take participants for a test drive. We should have both a new Leaf and a Bolt at the event.

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EV Direct to Customer Sales in CO, SB20-167, Comment TODAY, or tomorrow morning :-)

Your comment to your state senator (For those in SW Colorado, our state senator is Don Coram, and you can email him at: don.coram.senate@state.co.us) IS NEEDED BEFORE 10 AM tomorrow (Monday, February 24). Mr. Coram has voted against state EV legislation in the past. Please send him a note to let him know you’re his constituent and your views on bill SB20-167.

Want some pros & cons on this bill? See https://coloradosun.com/2020/02/17/electric-vehicle-makers-direct-sales-colorado-bill/

This just in from Denver Electric Vehicle Counsel:

This is an update on the progress of the above bill, “Electric Motor Vehicle Manufacturer & Dealer” – Concerning increasing consumer access to electric motor vehicles by allowing manufacturers to sell their own electric motor vehicles directly to consumers.
The Senate Transportation & Energy hearing was held on this bill on Tuesday the 18th. There were about 30 individuals testifying, at 3 minutes each, with a split of about 50/50 “For” and “Against”, which lasted over 2 hours. The Committee voted to send it unamended to the Committee of the Whole (the Senate Floor) by a vote of 3 to 2.

On Friday the 21st it was on the Senate Floor for the Second Reading, with the debate lasting for about an hour. The bill was amended and you can see the text of the bill at https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2020A/bills/2020a_167_eng.pdf with the amendment double underlined on page 2. The Senate vote was very close at this Second Reading.

The Third Reading of this bill will be TOMORROW at 10:00 AM where it will pass or fail. If you would like to state your view of “For” or “Against” to your Senator, you should do it now, well before 10:00 AM tomorrow. You can find your Senator at https://leg.colorado.gov/findmylegislator and follow the directions.

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