Denver Tesla Club member Kamala Vanderkolk has been a large driver of a new Colorado bill designed to help protect Electric Vehicle (EV) parking spots in Colorado from being blocked by vehicles not charging. This action can be intentional or unintentional. As more EVs hit the road in Colorado, we believe it is important to ensure that owners are able to charge without worry.
This bipartisan bill (HB19-1298) has been sponsored by Representative Jovan Milton and Senator Kevin Priola. The Transportation and Local Government Commitment did agree 7-4 to send the bill to the House. The bill did pass the House and the next stop is the Senate.
The following testimony was only presented at the hearing in part due to time limitations. I am sharing the entire testimony for full context:
Thank you Mr. Chair and members of the committee for allowing me to testify in support of HB-1298.
My name is Sean Mitchell. I am the President of the Denver Tesla Club and represent approximately 530 members in the area. I am a real estate agent who owns an Electric Vehicle, driving more than 40,000 electric miles each year along the Front Range. I also create online content around EV adoption and the state of the EV industry with a 20,000 person global subscriber base. Due to this global audience, I am acutely aware that this is a growing frustration among EV owners.
For me, on busy driving days I rely heavily on Denver-area public charging parking spots to get to my meetings on time. When a charging parking spot is blocked by someone not charging, gas or electric powered, it has an impact on me supporting my real estate business.
Myself, along with many members of the Denver Tesla Club, have been negatively impacted by this growing trend of charging parking spots being blocked, both intentionally and unintentionally. The inability to charge an EV is not only extremely frustrating, it also can prohibit the adoption of EVs in Colorado if prospective EV buyers hear that they cannot reliability depend on charging spots. Imagine if you were to stop to fill up a tank of gas and all spots were blocked.
There are two really key distinctions between fueling a gas and electric vehicle in 2019 to understand. 1) Typically fueling a gas vehicle takes 10 minutes or less and an owner has access to approximately 2,350 stations state wide according to the Colorado Division of Oil and Public Safety. An EV, however, can take an hour or more to fully charge. Furthermore, the number of charging stations in the state are about 80% less dense than gas stations. This means that if an EV charging spot is blocked, the owner cannot just drive across the street to the next charging station like a gas variant can. In some cases, it may be the only charging spot for tens or hundreds of miles. The second distinction is 2) Gas stations typically have explicit signage in well lit areas off of major roads, making it extremely clear what the purpose of that piece of real estate is. With an EV charging station, they are typically designated parking spots located in malls, hotels, and parking garages where all vehicles park, creating a higher likelihood that any car occupy charging spots without charging.
This actually happened to me while coming back from an LA to Denver road trip last month. At about 11 pm I stopped to charge my vehicle in Glenwood Springs. I discovered after pulling up to the station that every single charging spot was blocked by a gas vehicle despite the signs specifically stating “No Parking Except For Electric Vehicle Charging”. Fortunately, the hotel that hosts the charging station was aware of this ongoing problem and had an employee’s vehicle saving one of the spots for this very circumstance. If this had not been the case, I wouldn’t have been able to get back to Denver until one of those spots opened up, likely not until the following morning. To make the situation worse, with a remaining range of 30 miles on my vehicle, the next opportunity for me to stop and charge would have been Silverthorne - about 90 miles away.
To date the State of Colorado has been a fantastic supporter of EVs with their generous $5,000 tax incentive for new EV purchases and recently the zero emissions vehicle mandate signed by Governor Polis. This generous support has resulted in a surge in new EV purchases in Colorado. Year Over Year EV sales growth in Colorado saw a 70% increase from 2017 to 2018 according to EVAdoption.com. This is largely being driven by sub $40,000, 200-300 mile range EVs like the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, BMW i3, and Tesla Model 3. Including tax incentives and the astonishing low maintenance required, this places EVs in a sub $30,000 total cost of ownership.
Supporting this bill is not just for the affluent and well-to-do, but for the majority of Coloradans who own and are looking to own an EV. If Colorado lawmakers are truly serious about protecting clean air in state by encouraging EV adoption, this bill should be passed. Thank you for your time.