DENVER – What if you had a wind turbine or solar panels installed to recharge the batteries in your electric vehicle? Or to set up an EV charging station to sell some of that electricity to neighbors or passersby? What if you were City Market and wanted to offer refueling stations for your customers’ electric (or liquefied natural gas) vehicles, so they could charge up while they shopped, and at the same time extend the range of their trips?
Under current Colorado law you couldn’t do it. Couldn’t sell electricity commercially without being regulated as a utility by the Public Utilities Commission.
But that’s about to change thanks to common sense legislation currently being considered in the Colorado legislature. House Bill 1258, the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Charging Facilities act passed the House last week 60-3, and goes next week (Tuesday April 10) to the Transportation Committee in the Senate.
Senate sponsor Cheri Jahn (D-Wheat Ridge) told The Watch, “Prospects look good. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor in the House, and I have no reason to expect any new opposition in the Senate. Even still, I always run a bill like I do have opposition, and
so I've spoken with committee members and have gotten a good response thus far.”
Jahn, along with House co-sponsor Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) believes “HB 1258 was designed to provide certainty for the EV and liquefied natural gas sectors. . . A key
provision deals with protecting businesses with renewable energy (solar, small wind) from being regulated by the PUC if they install an EV charging station. This bill protects those businesses as long as the renewable energy is in compliance with all distributed generation and net metering rules.”
As more electric and other alternative-fuels vehicles come on the road, Colorado entrepreneurs will be able to quickly develop the network of recharging stations to make them practical. For example, Ridgway’s town council heard in February from Log Hill resident Dickson Pratt, who to the best of his knowledge has the only all-electric car in Ouray County. Pratt loves his EV but can’t take it farther than Ouray or Montrose because there are no commercial charging stations there to allow him to leapfrog to Grand Junction, say, or Silverton. (Pratt suggested the Town of Ridgway consider installing EV charging facilities to encourage EV tourism. “It would put us on the EV map,” he said.)
Assuming the passage of HB 1258, Jahn said, “This bill places natural gas and electric charging stations in line with gasoline and diesel by not regulating the sellers of alternative fuels by the PUC.” It would, she said, “send a strong market signal to the auto industry and companies all along the supply chain that Colorado is open for business in the alternative vehicle market.”
Representative Don Coram (R-Montrose) representing House District 58, voted for the bill last week. He told The Watch it “gives businesses the right to sell electricity. Now they can actually do that.”
Contacted yesterday, District 6 State Senator Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) said she hadn’t “heard the bill in the Senate yet….In skimming it online, I’m not seeing any problems with it, but haven’t heard the pros and cons.”