Colorado energy director Will Toor to drive push toward renewables, electric vehicles

Colorado Energy Office executive director Will ...

For Will Toor, it’s an exciting time to be on the front lines of energy and transportation issues.

Dropping prices are encouraging utilities of all sizes to switch to wind and solar. Options are increasing for drivers who want to go electric.

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostColorado Energy Office executive director Will Toor in his office on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019.

For six years, Toor worked on those issues as transportation program director at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, as a member of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, as a Boulder County commissioner and as Boulder mayor. He has taken the helm at the Colorado Energy Office at a time when changes in energy and transportation are among the top agenda items of a new governor.

“Gov. (Jared) Polis has articulated some bold goals around clean energy and climate change, with the goal of 100 percent clean energy in the electric sector by 2040,” Toor said in a recent interview.

On Toor’s fourth day on the job, Polis signed an executive order reaffirming the previous administration’s goal of having nearly 1 million electric vehicles on Colorado roads by 2030.

However, the order makes a significant change in the 2018 Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan by directing that tens of millions of dollars to replace older gas- and diesel-fueled trucks and fleet vehicles be used only for electric vehicles — not newer diesel and propane-fueled vehicles, as originally allowed. The money comes from the state’s nearly $70 million share of the national settlement with Volkswagen over allegations that it modified software to cheat on emissions tests.

[RELATED: Colorado’s electric car dream: More charging stations, less smog]

“I do believe it’s a very strategic investment,” Toor said. “I think we’re on the threshold of major market innovations where the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fleet may be able to move toward electrification quite rapidly.”

Toor also thinks there will be plenty of options for Colorado drivers if the state Air Quality Control Commission adopts a rule based on California’s requirement that a certain percentage of vehicles sold in the state be electric.

The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association isn’t reassured. The trade group says 75 percent of the vehicles sold in the state are trucks and sports utility vehicles, and there aren’t a lot of those yet.

The association is suing to repeal tougher vehicle fuel-efficiency standards approved in late 2018 and has pledged to speak out if an electric-vehicle standard is considered.

“I understand their concerns,” Toor said, “but it’s important to recognize that when we talk about 75 percent of new vehicles being trucks, that actually includes everything from small crossovers up through pickup trucks.”

Manufacturers plan to add more electric SUVs to their lineups, Toor said, so there should be more choices by the time the Colorado standard would take effect. Having an electric-vehicle requirement on the books will encourage automakers to offer a wider array of vehicles in Colorado, he said.

An Associated Press story saying cold weather can temporarily sap an electric vehicle’s power, reducing its range by …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Politics


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