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.
“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.