Commuting Solutions and the Northwest Mayors and Commissioners Coalition met Thursday morning for the 14th Legislative Breakfast. City and state leaders, along with Colorado energy businesses, met at the Aloft Hotel in Broomfield to discuss priorities for transportation, economic vitality and clean energy.
Gov. Jared Polis discussed how affordable housing and transportation are intertwined. He said that the rising cost of living has made people move further away from their place of work and driven up the demand for transportation needs. By placing better, affordable housing close to transit systems, commuting can be more environmentally friendly. He said that more people using transit systems will drive money into the systems, and make them better overall. This domino effect will help Colorado be more sustainable.
“This work is really critical to achieve our climate goals and our air quality goals as a state. It’s also critical for our quality of life,” Polis said.
He also said that Colorado has implemented financial incentives for electric vehicles and electric bicycles. Colorado residents can benefit from those incentives without waiting for nationwide incentives to be passed and get ahead of the curve.
Democratic Sen. Faith Winter said that she understands how bad air quality affects every aspect of Coloradoans lives. She said that she’s working towards making sure that funding from Senate Bill 260 is used to help residents. Winter was one of the prime sponsors of the bill.
The bill creates dedicated funding for planning, funding, development, construction, maintenance and supervision of a sustainable transportation system. According to the bill summary, the funding will be used to preserve, improve and expand existing transportation infrastructure, develop modern infrastructure to support widespread adoption of electric vehicles, and mitigate adverse environmental and health impacts of transportation systems.
Winter said that she believes the future of sustainable transportation systems rely on collaboration with city leaders, transit systems and state legislators. She said that the state is making strides in electrifying transit, but increased use in transit systems also needs to be prioritized.
“We can’t electrify our way out of the climate crisis,” she said.
Winter said that transportation is the biggest carbon emissions pollution. She said that both electrification of transit and reducing vehicle miles traveled will help the ozone and produce better air quality.
Robert Kenney, president of Xcel Energy’s Colorado Operating Company, shared the company’s sustainability goals and visions. Kenney said that electrification can also have economic benefits. He said that charging an electric vehicle during off-peak hours at home is equivalent to $1 per gallon of gasoline.
He said that one of the company’s vision is to have one in every five vehicles to be electric by 2030. Xcel plans to enable this vision by having charging available and affordable, providing more access to electrification, and leading by example by electrifying their own vehicles.