Rep. Joe Neguse touts infrastructure investment, tours city electric vehicle projects

On Dec. 16, Rep. Joe Neguse joined the city to talk about EV investment in Boulder.

Rep. Joe Neguse announced last week that Colorado’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure is about to get a $57 million boost.

The investment was earmarked in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed by the President Joe Biden earlier this year. Nationwide, the Department of Energy will invest $7.5 billion, building a network of 500,000 EV chargers.

According to Neguse, EVs are essential to achieving the country’s climate goals and will improve air quality. Statewide, transportation is now the top source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado, surpassing electricity generation, according to the state’s Colorado Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap.

To celebrate this investment, Neguse joined Mayor Aaron Brockett, County Commissioner Claire Levy and Jonathan Koehn, interim director of the city’s Climate Initiatives Department, at the North Boulder Recreation Center to learn more about local investments in EVs. The rec center is the location of the city’s innovative charging project with Fermata Energy. The two-way Fermata charger enables the city to take power from a car battery to cut down demand at the rec center, saving about $250 in a typical month since electricity costs rise when demand for energy rises.

Koehn discussed the potential impact of this technology, noting recent windstorms that knocked out power for many in Boulder.

“What we’re standing in front of may not look too remarkable at first glance, but to us, it’s actually a glimpse into our climate and transportation future,” said Koehn. “Now that we have demonstrated that the technology works, we are exploring opportunities to expand use, for the fleet and for home backup power use. In the future, when extreme weather threatens to knock out power, we can turn to our EVs as mobile batteries to power critical infrastructure in emergencies.”

The group then turned to tour one of the city’s four 100% electric HOP busses, which provides emissions-free, quiet transportation to thousands of riders each year. Koehn shared that the electric HOP can travel more than 200 miles on a single charge.

Reflecting on the city’s demonstration projects, Neguse noted the remarkable evolution taking place in the transportation sector. “I’ve spent my entire life with the preexisting infrastructure of gas stations on every corner,” he said. “One would hope that every one of those gas stations is replaced by a charging station. It’s a complete paradigm shift.”

Brockett thanked Neguse for his commitment to advancing this paradigm shift in Boulder. “You have the gratitude from the city of Boulder for getting that infrastructure bill done,” said the mayor. “We’re well-positioned to take advantage of those incoming resources. We have opportunities ready at hand.”