Electric vehicle charging station planned for Yampa, the first in rural Routt County | SteamboatToday.com

Electric vehicle charging station planned for Yampa, the first in rural Routt County

County pledges $10,000 in support of project

Two all-electric Chevy Bolts charge at the Level 2 charging station on 10th Street in May 2017. On Tuesday, the Board of Routt County Commissioners pledged $10,000 to build a faster-charging Level 3 station in the town of Yampa. Construction of the station is dependent on receiving funding from the Charge Ahead Colorado grant program.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The town of Yampa, about 30 miles south of Steamboat Springs, could be the site of the first electric vehicle charging station in rural Routt County.

On Tuesday, the Board of Routt County Commissioners pledged $10,000 to the Yampa Valley Electric Association, a local energy co-op, to install a Level 3 DC Fast Charger in the parking lot of the 24-hour Penny’s Diner and Travelodge hotel in Yampa. Commissioners cited opportunities for tourism and economic development as their reasons for the support. 

This comes amid a statewide initiative to make Colorado more navigable for electric vehicles. YVEA is applying for a $30,000 grant through the state’s Charge Ahead Colorado program to help fund the project. A portion of grant funds comes from the $14.7 billion Volkswagen court settlement, arising from its 2016 diesel emissions cheating scandal. Colorado received $68.7 million through the settlement in 2018 and earmarked $10.3 million to build a statewide network of electric vehicle charging stations.

‘Electrifying’ the Flat Tops Scenic Byway

The Level 3 charger, made by the Illinois-based EVTown, is capable of charging an electric vehicle in just over 30 minutes, according to the company’s website. It costs about $80,000 to install, according to Megan Moore-Kemp, YVEA’s energy services director. 

The commissioner’s $10,000 pledge is contingent on YVEA receiving the Charge Ahead grant. Moore-Kemp expects notification of the grant allocation in November. If awarded, the energy co-op would still have to raise an additional $40,000 for the charging station, some of which YVEA will cover. Moore-Kemp said the co-op continues to seek other funding sources for the project. 

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If completed, the charging station would “electrify the Flat Tops Scenic Byway,” as Moore-Kemp told commissioners Tuesday. The byway is an 82-mile stretch of road that connects the town of Yampa in the east to Meeker in the west. 

Meeker already received a Charge Ahead grant to install a Level 3 charging station, which opened in June

Having a charging station in Yampa, according to Moore-Kemp, would allow drivers traveling north from Interstate 70 to charge their vehicle along the byway without needing to stop in Steamboat. 

Commissioner Tim Corrigan saw the potential for the charging station to attract visitors to Yampa businesses as they wait for their vehicles to charge. Initially, he was hesitant to pledge money to the project amid other infrastructure needs in Yampa.

“When we know the town of Yampa desperately needs to repave Main Street, it feels a little funny seeing $80,000 go to an (electric vehicle charging) station,” he said during Tuesday’s meeting. 

He also voiced concern over making a decision without Commissioner Beth Melton, who was not present at the meeting.

It was Commissioner Doug Monger who made the motion to support the project, citing its alignment with the county’s environmental goals. 

“I have some doubts it will ever pay off itself, but we are trying to do whatever we can to be green,” he said. 

If YVEA receives the grant funding in November, Moore-Kemp expects construction of the station to begin as early as the spring. 

Existing charging stations in Routt County

Currently, there are nine Level 2 charging stations at a public or lodging property location around Routt County, the most recent of which was installed at Alpine Bank, 1901 Pine Grove Road, in September.

Level 2 chargers, which use AC power, are cheaper but generally take four to six hours to charge an electric vehicle, depending on the type of car, according to EVTown’s website. They cost about $18,000 to install, Moore-Kemp told the commissioners on Tuesday.

A Level 3 charging station is slated for installation at an undetermined location in Steamboat Springs by the spring through the same Charge Ahead grant program, according to Suzie Romig, energy outreach director with the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. Once installed, it will be the first charger in all of Routt County able to charge an electric vehicle in under one hour. 

Such vehicles are becoming increasingly common on Colorado’s roads as people look for more environmentally friendly ways to travel.

Matthew Shmigelsky, transportation director with Clean Energy Economy for the Region, a nonprofit based in Carbondale, expects more than 10,000 electric cars to be registered in the state by the end of the year. This would be an increase of more than 17% compared to the number of such vehicles registered in 2018. 

Electric vehicles do not produce tailpipe carbon emissions and are more efficient than gas-powered engines, according to the U.S. Department of Energy Fuels Data Center.

Routt County residents interested in purchasing an electric vehicle can take advantage of a sales event until the end of October, according to Romig. Various energy groups and municipalities in Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties are sponsoring the event. Visit garfieldcleanenergy.org/ev2019 for more information.

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email dmaiolo@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

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