Western guvs pledge to create regional recharging network for electric cars

They sign an agreement to make it easier for electric vehicles to travel along the 5,000 miles of freeways in seven states.<br>

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Crews work to install a total of four electric car charging stations at Liberty park in Salt Lake on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017.

Western governors agreed Wednesday to work together to create a network of recharging stations to allow electric vehicles to travel easily along the 5,000 miles of freeways in their region.

The governors of Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming signed a memorandum of understanding to create a unified regional electric vehicle plan.

“By knitting together the plans of seven key states through cooperative partnerships one to another, America’s travelers will soon be able to experience the wonders of the West while enjoying the innovations of our day and advancing environmental outcomes,” said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

Among steps they agree to take are:

• Reduce “range anxiety” by coordinating location of charging stations, to help ensure electric vehicle can recharge easily before their batteries run out of power.

• Create voluntary minimum standards for charging stations, to help ensure consistency along the highways.

• Identify and develop opportunities to incorporate charging stations into planning and development processes, including building codes, metering policies and renewable energy generation projects.

• Encourage electric vehicle manufacturers to stock and market a wide variety of such cars within their states.

• Collaborate on funding opportunities to support what they call the Regional Electric Vehicle West Corridor.

The governors said more than with more than 20,000 electric vehicles on the road in Western states, offering a better network of recharging facilities along freeways will encourage even more people to drive them — and transform the market to allow smaller communities to plug into the regional system.

The agreement came at the Energy Innovation Summit hosted by the National Governors Association.

“Utah is proud to take part in modernizing the ‘Crossroads of the West’ through working state-to-state to establish this strategic electric vehicle transportation network,” Herbert said.

Other governors also hailed the action.

“Our residents and the millions of visitors to our states will be able to drive electric vehicles from Denver to Las Vegas, from Santa Fe to Helena,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said, “Strategically spaced charging stations will allow these visitors to enjoy the same independence as traditional vehicles.”

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter added, “In the West we pride ourselves on what we can accomplish by working together. This initiative will ensure that locals and visitors to Idaho and our neighboring states have the freedom to explore the West in the way they prefer.”

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said, “We stand with other Western states by making a bold commitment by supporting successful implementation of an EV charging network along our main interstate corridors.”