Electric vehicles (EVs) seem to be all the rage these days. Why, you might be asking? Well, across the globe, transportation is substantially contributing to climate change and its associated impacts. In the U.S., ground transportation accounts for approximately 30% of our energy needs, 70% of petroleum consumption, and makes up 27% of our nation-wide greenhouse gas emissions. It’s clear that something must be done about transportation emissions, and EVs are one such solution.
Battery EVs emit zero tailpipe emissions. In our community, where electricity providers have climate-aligned renewable electricity targets, EV charging creates significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline vehicles. Cradle-to-grave analyses also show that EVs have a lower carbon footprint over the course of their lifetimes. If you’re curious, the Beyond Tailpipe Emissions Calculator helps you estimate the emissions associated with charging and driving an EV versus a gasoline vehicle.
Are you intrigued yet? I hope so! All these factors led the creators of the Eagle County Climate Action Plan to designate accelerating EV adoption as an immediate priority action. With transportation comprising 42% of Eagle County greenhouse gas emissions, this priority action is ever more important to meet. This sentiment catalyzed the creation of the Eagle County EV Infrastructure Plan.
The Eagle County EV Infrastructure Plan was a collaborative effort led by the Climate Action Collaborative (CAC), with participation from all communities in Eagle County, as well as utilities and technical EV experts. The writers of the Plan took an EV infrastructure (i.e., charging) focus based on the assumption that if you build it (chargers), they will buy it (EVs). After all, lack of EV charging infrastructure continues to be cited as a top barrier to EV adoption in the US. We used the EV adoption goal from the Climate Action Plan, along with a consensus-based 12:1 EV-to-public-plug ratio, to determine that there will be roughly 13,500 EVs in Eagle County by 2030, meaning we’ll need 1,130 public EV charging stations. As of December 2022, there were 902 EVs on the road and 106 public charging stations in Eagle County. In short, we have a lot of work to do, and creating this Plan is just the tip of the iceberg.
With the EV Infrastructure Plan completed and out to the public, CAC staff have begun presenting it to local Town Councils, Boards, and businesses to kick-start implementation. The Plan designates key areas of need, also known as charging deserts, within each community using a mapping tool. Furthermore, the Plan presents several strategies related to funding, infrastructure, and education and outreach as key opportunities for our partners to propel EV adoption.
If you’re reading this and wondering how you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and help our community meet our EV goals, look no further! If you’re a business owner, consider transitioning your fleet to all-electric, or installing charging stations for your employees to use. If you’re someone considering electric mobility options, stop by our Eagle County EV Ride & Drive and E-Bike Demo at the Town of Eagle Library, on Sunday, May 21st. If you’re a commercial property owner, homeowners association member, or property manager, reach out to CAC staff to learn how you can install EV charging stations at your desired location. If you’re a single family homeowner, installing an EV charger for your home is incredibly simple thanks to our local electric utility providers, Holy Cross Energy and Xcel Energy.
Additionally, financing EVs and EV charging stations is significantly incentivized by federal, state, and local governments right now, and something that our community should be taking advantage of. The CAC’s Transportation Working Group page has resources for EV and EV charger funding, found under the ‘EV Funding’ drop down.
To leave you all with one final message: personal EVs are one small piece of the puzzle when it comes to decarbonizing transportation. I encourage you to envision a future where human-powered and shared transportation is more convenient than a single occupancy vehicle. If you have the ability, I challenge you to participate in Eagle County’s Bike to Work day on Wednesday, June 28th, join the free Eagle County green commuting challenge, Sole Power, or take the bus to work.
Gina McCrackin is the Climate Action Manager at Walking Mountains Science Center. The Climate Action Collaborative is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Eagle County 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.