Western states to roll out EV highway initiative

More than 5,000 miles of highways in the U.S. west are targeted in an effort to expand access for drivers using alternative vehicles.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Oct. 4, 2017 at 7:43 AM
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Oct. 4 (UPI) -- A handful of governors from western U.S. states roll out plans Wednesday to expand access for electric vehicles along their highways, Colorado's governor said.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will host governors from western states to unveil plans his office said would add a layer of confidence for those traveling across the region in alternative vehicles.

"This bipartisan, collaborative project involves six additional governors and will affect more than 5,000 miles of highway," his office said in an emailed statement.

More than 90 percent of all transportation-related energy consumption in the United States comes from petroleum-based products, with electric vehicles accounting only for a small fraction of total consumer use. A report from The University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute said the sale of plug-in electric vehicles, battery-powered vehicles and hybrids have each increased by more than 700 percent since 2011.

DNV GL, a Norwegian company providing risk management advice, said in an energy transition outlook that global demand for energy in general will level off by 2030 and then move lower as efficiency improves. For oil, demand peaks in 2022 because of the rise in the use of electric vehicles, though energy trends might not be enough to stave off the impacts of climate change.

Swedish automaker Volvo said this year it was marking an end to a vehicle line powered solely by the internal combustion engine. Tesla said in its second quarter release that orders for two of its electric vehicle lines were up 15 percent in July when compared with the quarterly average.

Two million electric vehicles were on the road globally last year, with most of those in the U.S., European and Chinese markets.

The University of Michigan report, co-authored by Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak, found both battery-powered and plug-in hybrids are at the point where they're capable of meeting the daily travel needs of most U.S. drivers. Recent improvements in range and charging times, their report read, has led to wider acceptance and reduced "range anxiety."

According to The Denver Post, about 2 percent of new vehicle sales in the state are plug-ins.

Hickenlooper's office estimated clean-energy jobs support more than $3.5 billion in wages. His state is rich in shale oil and gas resources, but touted its legacy of taking a balanced approach to energy. Wind power accounts for the largest percentage of renewable energy on the Colorado grid, accounting for more than 10 percent of its total electricity.

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