What's Happening in Colorado

There are currently circumstances in Colorado that disincentivize private investment in the state’s electric vehicle (EV) charging market. In 2019 the Colorado General Assembly passed Senate Bill 19-077 which requires electric utilities to file programs to support widespread transportation electrification with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission every three years. These filings, often referred to as Transportation Electrification Plans or TEPs, are allowed by statute to include utility-owned EV charging stations, funded by ratepayers and generating a guaranteed rate of return for the utility.

The first consequences of this legislation became apparent in Public Service Company Colorado’s (PSCo) 2021-2023 TEP, which included approval for the utility to build, own and operate 25 EV charging stations in their Colorado service territory. PSCo is also a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, who has made attempts to or been approved to build utility-owned chargers in several states where their subsidiaries operate.

Factors dissuading private investment in EV charging in Colorado:

Colorado statute allows utilities to use ratepayer funds to own and operate EV charging stations, subject to Commission approval 

PSCo has already been approved to build 25 DCFC charging stations and has indicated a desire to increase their presence in the EV charging market

PSCo’s next request to enter the EV charging market came in May of 2023 in the application for the 2024-2026 TEP. The initial proposal from the utility included a request to use $145 million in ratepayer funds to own and operate 460 direct current fast charging (DCFC) stations, a proposal that would further discourage private investment in the state. The utility then shifted to a plan to offer a rebate program for third-party owned chargers instead of building utility-owned chargers. While this represented an improvement, PSCo reserved the right to reintroduce the utility-owned model proposal in the future. As the commission considered the TEP application through Proceeding 32A-0242E, CAP submitted comments encouraging the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to reject PSCo’s reservation of the right to return with future utility-owned charger proposals. The Commission did allow PSCo to keep this provision when issuing their final decision in April of 2024; however, the Commission also stated that it was "increasingly unlikely that the Commission would approve Company ownership, except perhaps in areas that the unregulated market remains uninterested in serving."

Without legislative change, the threat of proposals for utility-owned charging stations will continue to make private entities hesitant to invest in Colorado’s EV charging market. While the shift from a utility-owned charging network to a rebate model in the 2024-2026 TEP is an improvement, it will be difficult for businesses to confidently invest without further certainty to protect a level playing field in the EV charging market.


Your Voice Matters. This issue can’t wait – join today!

A change in public policy is needed to meet our country’s growing EV charging needs. To date, policies have largely been dictated by power companies. And the result has been great for utility companies but not for EV drivers and utility customers. To achieve a successful nationwide charging network, private businesses and consumers must have a seat at the table. It’s time that all stakeholders – from electricity consumers and EV drivers to transportation infrastructure businesses and related industries – be heard. Now is the time for us to charge ahead!