Aug 8, 2023 - Business

Colorado and Xcel defer to private interests to build EV charging network

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Colorado is awarding $17 million to Tesla, gas stations and other private entities to build new charging stations as part of an effort to expand the state's existing network of 871 fast-chargers to priority locations.

  • Only one government — the City of Pueblo — received a grant, which is the first batch from a $5 billion federal program designed to buy electric vehicles.

Why it matters: Colorado needs to add 6,000 chargers to fuel the 940,000 electric vehicles that Gov. Jared Polis hopes to see on the road by 2030.

State of play: The Polis administration's decision to favor private operators is the latest indication of how the state's network will look.

  • Xcel Energy announced earlier in August it would offer rebates to incentivize private companies to build 460 fast chargers.
  • It's a reversal from the energy provider's initial proposal to tap ratepayers for the cost to build its own $145 million network. The Public Utility Commission is expected to make a decision on which plan to support in early 2024.

What they're saying: "Recent developments among Tesla and many major auto manufacturers in the high-speed public charging market made it prudent for us to propose an alternative strategy," Xcel Energy's Deb Erwin told state regulators.

The intrigue: The Charge Ahead Partnership, a coalition of gas stations, convenience stores and private operators, is lobbying against charging networks built by governments and utilities that limit private investment.

  • "If you want these to be in a place where they are reliable, and they are accessible and high quality, then the private market place is best equipped to do that," the partnership's Ryan McKinnon told Axios Denver.

Of note: Xcel Energy pledged in December 2020 to build 24 charging stations, but none are operational nearly three years later, according to filings the company made in Minnesota.

The big picture: The U.S. needs such a significant investment in public charging infrastructure to meet the expected demand for EVs that all Americans will pay for it — through taxpayer-funded programs and rate hikes from utilities — even if they don't drive one.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more