DENVER — He promised not to mandate 100 percent renewable energy, but Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) didn't say anything about not signing executive orders with policies that would force a change in the energy industry.
Polis signed an executive order on Thursday to move Colorado to zero-emission vehicle standards.
Late last year, the state's Air Quality Control Commission agreed to new low emission vehicle standards.
Polis has asked his new executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to develop a rule for zero-emission vehicle standards by May and then gets that rule approved by the Air Quality Control Commission by Oct. 30, 2019.
"It's far more energy efficient than internal combustion engines in every vehicle. And that's a point that we want to reinforce that electrifying vehicles leads to cleaner air today, as well as saving consumers money," Polis said after signing the executive order.
His request exempts one industry.
"Change presents opportunities and challenges, and of course, there are sectors like agriculture that have unique needs, and nothing in this executive order adds any restrictions on tractors or specialized farm equipment that are important for the competitiveness of our agriculture industry," said Polis.
If the zero-emission vehicle standards are adopted, vehicle manufacturers would have to change their approach to car sales in Colorado.
"In a few years, 10 percent of Colorado's vehicles need to be electric vehicles, 10 percent of the vehicles sold in the state," said Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Ryan.
Starting in 2025, one car out of every 10 cars sold by a manufacturer would have to be electric.
Polis' executive order also calls for a goal of 940,000 electric vehicles on Colorado roads by 2030.
According to Will Toor, executive director of Colorado's Energy Office, there are 15,000-16,000 electric cars in Colorado right now.
Part of his executive order also changes how the state will spend money it received in the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal.
The state received $70 million.
About $10 million of that goes to passenger car charging infrastructure.
The other $60 million will now be divvied up between changing school buses, transit buses and trucks to electric vehicles, and installing new charging stations throughout the state.
"That's an important part of a zero-emission vehicles program is that folks are able to charge their electric cars and have access to charging stations throughout the state," said Ryan.
"Denver residents like to go other places, as well. So, when it comes to zero-emission vehicles, how does a Denver resident get to the mountains? How does a Denver resident get to Estes Park?" said Polis.
So, who pays for the electric vehicle charging stations?
According to Toor, the state would likely offer grants to companies that want to install them, and those companies would likely charge the user to charge their car.
The state would not be paying to charge people's cars.
Republican Senate Minority Leader John Cooke (R-Greeley) and Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) put out a joint statement defending the free market.
"This action does not encourage our automotive industry to innovate, it forces them to do so, and the result will undeniably be increased costs for Coloradans and lackluster, rushed products. While the Governor is correct in showing growth in the purchase of electric vehicles, what he forgets is that those in the lower and middle class of Colorado are undeniably sticking with gas-powered automobiles due to their overwhelmingly lower costs and reliability," they wrote. Admittedly, a Tesla would probably make a great vehicle in downtown Denver, but out in Delta, you better have a truck. Ironically, the Governor admits the technology does not yet exist for tractors and farming equipment but ignores that many other vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs, also lack the technology for such a rushed implementation.