EV chargers at Routt County’s new building will be open to public | SteamboatToday.com

EV chargers at Routt County’s new building will be open to public

Study shows the U.S. will need as many as 1.2 million public EV chargers by end of 2030

The city of Steamboat Springs installed electric vehicle charging stations at the Howelsen Hill Rodeo Grounds parking lot last summer.
Suzie Romig/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Routt County is submitting a grant application to the Colorado Energy Office to add two electric vehicle charging stations at the new Health and Human Services building, the first of several planned near county buildings.

Demand for these new publicly available charging stations — accommodating as many as four vehicles at once — is expected to be high, especially because of the limited availability of EV charging stations in downtown Steamboat.

“Those available are frequently occupied,” the grant application reads. “There is an obvious increase in the number of electric vehicles in Routt County, and the demand for charging stations will surely increase as the number of electric vehicles continues to rise.”

Car companies have grabbed headlines for setting goals to stop offering gas-powered vehicles in the coming decades, but another key piece of that puzzle is the charging infrastructure.

A study from the global consulting firm Mckinsey and Company found the United States needs as many as 1.2 million public chargers by 2030 to meet goals to cut emissions. Cars and trucks account for about a fifth of America’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Across Colorado there are currently about 68,000 EVs on the road, according to EValuateCO, a public data dashboard that tracks the growing number of such vehicles. As for chargers, there are about 3,700 Level 2 ports and 700 of the more expensive Level 3 ports.

The recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated about $7.5 billion toward electric vehicle charging infrastructure with a goal of installing 500,000 public charging stations by 2030.

The Colorado Energy Office’s Charge Ahead Colorado grant program has been active since 2013 and has supported the addition of about 2,000 chargers across the state since.

In the case of the county’s application, it would provide $9,000 toward installing each charger, about 75% of the total cost, according to Routt County Facilities Manager Joe Stepan.

“(Installing the chargers) is in line with the Climate Action Plan and has also been part of the overall HHS building from the get go,” said Routt County Grant Administrator Caroline McClenahan.

McClenahan said officials at the energy office have reported they have $3 million in funding to award this cycle. Because the county’s grant only asks for $18,000, she said she feels good about this grant being funded.

The two charging stations are considered Level 2. EV chargers currently come in three levels. Level 1 is a charger that can simply be plugged into an outlet in the wall and slowly charges the battery over longer periods of time.

Stepan said Level 2 new chargers generally charge a vehicle in about half the time of a Level 1 unit. Level 3, also called DCFC Ports, can charge a vehicle much faster, but Stepan said those stations can cost more than $100,000 to install.

“And the power supply for (Level 3 chargers) is a whole separate power feed that needs to be brought in,” Stepan said.

The use policy for these stations would be similar to rules in the county’s parking lot in general, and charges would be limited to two hours, Stepen said. This would limit the use of the chargers to people using the parking lot for county business and wouldn’t allow vehicles to be left there overnight.

The stations would be available for use by staff as well, but the county also intends to install charging stations at the Road and Bridge Shop in Steamboat, where most of the county’s fleet vehicles are kept.

Some additional work involved with the HHS building has been to put the conduit needed along Sixth Street so that charging stations could be added sometime down the road if needed.

“It’ll be available there to get power and cables closer to those street parking spots if somebody ever does decide to put in a station,” Stepan said.

Routt County Building Official Todd Carr said there have been a handful of permits issued to put in public EV chargers like ones at the Kum & Go near Anglers Drive and at the rodeo grounds near Howelsen Hill.

As for in-home vehicle chargers, Carr said there has been about 15 permits issued since January. The McKinsey study estimated the U.S. will need as many as 28 million private chargers by 2030. Level 1 chargers that can plug into a regular outlet wouldn’t need a permit, but the others would, Carr said.

“We’re not seeing a ton of them yet,” Carr said. “On new developments, we’re starting to see where people are getting wise and installing the conduit in advance … but they are not yet installing the wiring or physical charging itself.”

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