Utah Seeking To Add Charging Stations To Its Highways


Salt Lake City has a problem — smog. Much like Los Angeles, it is situated in an area surrounded by hills and mountains that limit air circulation. As a result, photo-reactive pollutants build up over the city. Add sunshine and you get smog. The local utility company, Rocky Mountain Power, has applied for a $4 million federal grant to expand the use of electric vehicles in the area. The money would be used to provide more fast charging stations for electric vehicles along 1500 miles of highways in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. It would also provide incentives to convert business cars to electric vehicles.

charger stations

“We do a lot of driving. So, we feel it’s important to drive electric vehicles so we don’t contribute to the inversion,” said Bryan Anderson, regional business manager with RMP. The utility has teamed up with government and community partners to research and develop the plan to expand EV charging stations and improve air quality.

“Having those fast charging stations which can charge a car in 10-20 minutes is going to be really important when it comes to eliminating that range anxiety,” said Dr. Laura Nelson, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development. “Electric vehicle infrastructure is the next rational step, I think, in the evolution of our transportation corridor. We have 5 wonderful national parks and we would hope to be able to reach all of our 5 national parks,” said Nelson. “People fly into Salt Lake City to drive to those parks and, currently, today, they’re going to pick up a gasoline vehicle.”

“By having more electric charging stations on freeways and at homes and businesses, people will know that they will be able to charge their car and go as far as they need to go,” said Paul Murphy, with Rocky Mountain Power. “Our goal is, within 10 years, we’ll have 50,000 electric vehicles cruising down our highways.”

Murphy said about half of Utah’s air pollution is caused by motor vehicles. “Especially here in Utah where pollution gets trapped in the valley, electric vehicles are going to make a huge difference. I think it’s going to be a lot more affordable and a lot easier to use electric vehicles here in Utah.” The level 2 and level 3 charging stations would cost anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars for a charge.

The additional stations will allow drivers of electric vehicles to travel on interstates throughout Utah without fear of running out of electricity. A recent study by the International Council on Clean Transportation says that more charging stations encourages more people to choose an electric car.

Isn’t it interesting that a state that says it wants to promote the use of electric cars is playing hardball with Tesla Motors and opposing its request to sell its cars direct to consumers in Utah? Politicians. Can’t live with ’em. Can’t live without them.



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I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • Gnällgubben

    An excellent initiative, despite the Tesla situation. Infrastructure is currently very weak in the middle of the US.
    I’m sure there will be far more than 50k electric vehicles on Utah roads in 10 years, especially if neighboring states do the same.

  • wraithnot

    We visited three of those national parks in Utah (Arches, Bryce Canon, and Zion) on a recent road trip in our 85 kWh Model S. The trip to and from Arches was very easy thanks to the Tesla superchargers along I70 and in Moab. But the trip through Bryce Canon and Zion took a bit more planning and required a stop at an RV park* (luckily Ruby’s Inn and campground is very close to several restaurants so we ate lunch while the car charged). A supercharger (or CHAdeMO since we have the adapter) near Bryce canon would make things much easier.

    *We probably would have still made it without the stop at the RV park, but it would have required driving slower than the flow of traffic, being careful with the climate control, and cutting things way too close for comfort.

    • Mark Potochnik

      I don’t have a Tesla (yet). But when I saw the map, I suggested to Tesla to get superchargers on “the other side of the mountain” like maybe Ruby Inn… Math is easy. They also need some near Yellowstone. They have it figured to drive through, but not scenic sightseeing.

      Maybe a destination charger at the motel there.(at least)