During this year’s National Drive Electric Week, I traveled to Longmont, Colorado and Dallas, Texas to meet EV supporters in those areas, both of which are exciting places for EV adoption.
Longmont, Colorado is a small city adjacent to its more famous sister Boulder, and a bit north of Denver. This year, Longmont held its first NDEW event and I got to attend. One of the best parts was that, as I was exiting Denver airport, I was greeted with one of those highway condition signs that declared “Happy National Drive Electric Week.” It made my heart sing. Kudos to the Colorado Department of Transportation for making that happen!
It was an impressive event, especially for a first year and one of nine events held in Colorado this year. Because Colorado has just become a clean car state, there was definitely some “electricity” in the air (pun intended) and a sense that with its dynamic new governor, the state had really stepped into national leadership on clean energy and vehicles.
The event was organized by Sustainable Resilient Longmont, a local NGO. They have clearly done their work well with the city. The mayor spoke at the event about his support for EVs and the city’s recent decision to set a goal of 100% renewable energy. Dealers are already pretty engaged—Nissan, Chevy, BMW, and Mitsubishi showed up to offer test drives—and there is an expectation that the supply of vehicles should improve in Colorado even more over the next year, as a new ZEV state. After the event, I also got to visit Boulder Nissan and was dazzled by the dozens of LEAFs they have in stock, displayed front and center on their lot. The event had a few dozen volunteers who were showing off their cars to attendees (including a historic Porsche conversion car). Midway through the event, a big group of the EV drivers took off to drive up to the neighboring Ft. Collins event, about 45 minutes to the north and a group of EV drivers from Ft. Collins showed up at our event. Longmont is definitely an event to watch for 2020.
It’s more than a cliché that everything is bigger in Texas. The Dallas event has been one of the biggest NDEW events in the country for many years. This year, attendance was around 500 and I got to pay a visit. The event was organized jointly by the North Central Texas Council of Governments and DFW Clean Cities, with a strong presence by Oncor Energy, the local utility. This year they had a new location in the suburban city of Irving, Texas. I’m told that in previous years, they have had bad luck with torrential rains, but this year was sunny and warm. Houston had just been hit with yet another 500-year flood (gosh, maybe climate change is real!), but it managed to steer around Dallas.
Two big things struck me about the event. First, there is something about Texans and Tesla. Texans seem to love their Teslas. There were a lot of them to be seen and the local Tesla club is highly organized with t-shirts and name badges for all. I’m told that they do lots of events over the course of the year and have the drill down. This is despite the fact that its actually ILLEGAL for Tesla to sell in Texas, but folks manage to get the cars anyway. Second, there is something about Texans and energy. Yes, I know that Texas is the oil and gas capital of the country, but it’s more than that. It’s also the wind capital and maybe soon the solar capital. It also has the most successful deregulated electricity market in the country, which has a led to a lot of that renewable energy development and might also create some interesting opportunities for EVs. Texas has a $2,500 state rebate for EVs, which most people at the event were pleasantly surprised to learn. There were also all kinds of interesting conversion vehicles at the event, solar cars, and the like. Texas is already the fifth biggest EV market in the country and I expect a lot of more in the coming years.
Joel Levin is the executive director of Plug In America.