Lance Johnson, YVSC Intern | March 7, 2022
My name is Lance Johnson, and I am an intern with Yampa Valley Sustainability Council as well as a senior at Steamboat Springs High School. I’ve grown up in the Yampa Valley, falling in love with all that our beautiful home has to offer. I love to backcountry ski, mountain bike, hike and rock climb. When indoors, I love to read, listen to music, and practice Tae Kwon Do at the Steamboat Springs Martial Arts School.
During my elementary and middle school years, I learned about the importance of sustainability and being good stewards of the land. In high school, I have seen the devastation climate change is causing all over the world. Blizzards, high winds, hurricanes, floods, and as we have seen here in the Yampa Valley, droughts and fires are wreaking havoc on our planet. With these events happening more and more often, my awareness of sustainability became a passion.
During the initial lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent hours learning about composting, permaculture, and sustainable homesteading. I even built my own compost bin, diverting as much as 10 gallons of compost per week from my home and the restaurant where I work. I was so excited when I heard about the YVSC Internship Program. It seemed like a great way to have a much wider impact on my community beyond my small composting operation. I was elated to have been accepted, ready to do some good for my community.
My Work with YVSC
I have been given the awesome opportunity to work with our Energy and Transportation Director, Paul Bony. In collaboration with the City of Steamboat Springs, we are working to facilitate the implementation of new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Last year, the city, the county, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation, the Colorado Energy Office, Yampa Valley Electric Association and the Steamboat Chamber came together to draft the Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan. This plan outlines a goal of 20% of Steamboat residents owning EV’s by 2030.
This plan also set an ideal ratio of EV’s to charging stations at 12:1. We are currently over-prepared with charging stations, with a ratio of about 7.5:1. While this is great news, it is largely due to our low EV ownership rate of just .58% (58 people out of every 10,000). EV ownership is increasing exponentially however, and if Steamboat reaches its goal of 20% EV ownership in 2030, there will need to be 51 new charging stations every year.
Additionally, lack of access to charging stations may serve as a barrier to new EV ownership. While people who have their own personal garages can easily charge their EV overnight while plugged into their house, other Steamboat residents are unable to do so. Many residents live in apartments or condos with parking garages, parking lots, or street parking, where charging isn’t possible. These residents may feel wary about investing in an EV, fearing they will lose charge in their car while driving. This fear is known as range anxiety, and the best way to alleviate it is to have charging stations available to anyone who needs one. This is why we need at least one charging station for every 12 electric vehicles in Steamboat.
To aid in the city’s mission to expand EV infrastructure, YVSC is creating a database of possible new charging station locations. We plan to target multifamily units (MFUs) where assigned parking garages are unavailable, as well as high-traffic workplaces and shuttle fleets interested in electrification. Our highest priority is MFUs, as MFUs without access to personal parking garages leave the majority of Steamboat residents unable to charge their electric vehicle at home, contributing to range anxiety and preventing new EV ownership.
Furthermore, adding new charging stations to high-traffic workplaces such as hospitals and schools will help us to “fill the gaps” for those who can’t charge at home. Employees will be able to charge their vehicle for hours while working, guaranteeing a sufficient battery charge. These workplace charging stations will also allow clients to charge their vehicle while shopping, visiting the doctor or attending school.
Finally, YVSC wants to help make the transition to EVs easier for the many shuttles, taxis and delivery services in Steamboat. We intend to reach out to companies with large vehicle fleets to find those interested in electrifying their vehicle fleet. Installing charging stations in the parking lots of vehicle fleets will put the infrastructure in place to allow for easy electrification.
Paul and I have already begun creating a list of MFUs that fit our criteria. In the coming weeks, we will be hosting a community education meeting for Steamboat’s Home Owners Associations to share information about the benefits of installing charging stations on their properties. We are also working on a list of workplaces and fleets to install chargers.
What You Can Do To Help
Now is the perfect opportunity to find host sites for EV charging. Two upcoming state grant opportunities (one in May and one in October) will pay 80% of the cost! Property owners can raise their property values, please and attract tenants or homeowners who own EVs, and add a selling point to advertising, while businesses can enjoy increased traffic from EV owners while charging their vehicle. Businesses can also attract employees who have EVs and want to work where charging is available.
Of course, increasing the number of EV chargers also contributes to the city’s goal of increasing EV infrastructure, directly fighting climate change. So what can you do to get EV charging at your home or workplace? First, you can reach out to your HOA or employer and tell them about our project. Showing interest in new charging stations is the best way to motivate your HOA or employer to install them. You can also encourage them to reach out to us at lance@YVSC.org and paul@YVSC.org. This ensures that they will be involved in the process. Next, one of the requirements of the grants is that residents or employees at a potential site fill out an EV interest survey. If your HOA or employer is interested in taking advantage of this grant, you will be given one of these surveys to fill out. A completed survey is the first step in the State grant program and we will help your association with the application process. If you or someone you know is on an HOA board for an MFU, reach out to the emails above. This will ensure you are on our list of HOAs that are interested in EV charging opportunities and we will be able to stay informed about our efforts.
I am so excited to be a part of such a critical project in our community. Being on the forefront of the push to electrify Steamboat is an honor and a privilege, and I can’t wait to see this project come to fruition. If you have any questions or comments, or would like to be involved in the EV installation grants, I would love to hear from you! As mentioned above, my email is lance@YVSC.org.