Putting the Politics Aside – A Roadmap for Electric Vehicles in Utah

October 9, 2020

Putting the Politics Aside – A Roadmap for Electric Vehicles in Utah

Like many issues, energy policy continues to polarize, with both parties employing impassioned rhetoric to turn out the base. Democratic pundits call climate change an “existential” and “global threat,” while some of their Republican counterparts have doubled down and backed climate change deniers. The politico-talk that makes its way to the mainstream media creates a hyper-partisan atmosphere, hindering cooperation, compromise, and innovation.

When we take out some of the fiery politics, we see a very real retail politics component of energy policy and climate investments. What we mean is that advancing climate resiliency programs and economic and innovative energy policy creates solutions for real problems facing the average constituent or customer. In a recent podcast, EEI took the opportunity to chat with James Campbell, Director of Innovation and Sustainability Policy at Rocky Mountain Power about their relationship with the Utah government and their roadmap to expanded adoption of electric vehicles in Utah.

Utah, where they couldn’t decide between Jell-o and the Sugar Beet for their state food, a fast-growing and highly urbanized state, a Republican-led government (a trifecta, actually), and home to some of the most innovative and progressive Electric Vehicle (EV) programs in the country. Some might be surprised to see the ruby-red state advance such a “climate-friendly” initiative, but EVs solve for a prominent problem in Utah – poor air quality. Unique geographic factors cause smog and other pollutants to get trapped over Utah population centers, with one report ranking Utah as 48th in the country for air quality.

This past session, Rocky Mountain Power engaged with the Utah legislature to advance HB396, a bill that dramatically expanded a public-private partnership to create a more accessible and hardy charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. A robust network of chargers is the most critical piece of the puzzle in the adoption of EVs, as consumers still hesitate to purchase, fearing a dead battery, miles away from a charger. Rocky Mountain Power will invest $50 million over the next five years to install chargers every 50 miles along Utah’s highways and between other recreational areas. It’s not just about quantity though, these stations will embrace innovative solutions, such as co-location and artificial intelligence. And this is only the beginning, as bus and truck fleets will be able to safely and economically electrify.

Politics is often about perfect timing. Rocky Mountain Power found an ideal moment to partner with the Utah government and create a more accessible path to widespread EV adoption. By leveraging significant carbon-reductions in electricity generation and expanded EV adoption, consumers, government, and industry can net significant reductions in harmful pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, such investments are community builders, creating economic development, new jobs, and a competitive edge when attracting other investors and businesses. Rocky Mountain Power demonstrated a true win-win, and we look forward to seeing how they innovate next!

Check out episode 16 of our podcast, “The Current,” to learn more.

Episode 16: To help explain how electricity providers are expanding the use of electric vehicles, Brad is joined by James Campbell, Director of Innovation and Sustainability Policy at Rocky Mountain Power. Rocky Mountain Power and its partners are helping to make Utah an attractive place for EVs. James shares how his state can become a model as companies and policymakers in other states pursue expanding EVs.

What You Can Do!
If you think EV adoption is important, join our mailing list to be informed about any upcoming advocacy opportunities!

Sign our ongoing petition, calling for greater incentives for Federal and State investment in Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure.

Consider an EV for your next car!