Initiative designed to spark electric car use

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Kathy Portner

Kathy Portner believes residents should enjoy as many options as possible when it comes to getting around the Grand Valley — including electric vehicles.

That’s why Portner said she’s excited about a new initiative in Colorado to promote the use of electric vehicles. “Hopefully, the results of this project will benefit our community.”

While nothing’s yet certain, Portner said the effort ultimately might lead to the use of more electric vehicles in the City of Grand Junction fleet, the installation of more public charging stations and changes in zoning and planning related to electric vehicle charging.

Portner, a neighborhood services manager for the City of Grand Junction, also belongs to a group of city employees who explore and promote conservation practices. That group — called CORE for Conserving Our Resources Efficiently — recently joined in the state initiative to promote increased use of electric vehicles.

Project FEVER, an acronym for Fostering Electric Vehicle Expansion in the Rockies, is managed by the Denver Metro Clean Cities Coalition, in turn a program of the American Lung Association in Colorado. A one-year federal grant from the Department of Energy funds Project FEVER and other efforts nationwide to encourage the increased use of electric vehicles.

Through a collaborative process, participants in Project FEVER will identify barriers to the increased use of electric vehicles as well as develop strategies to overcome those barriers, Portner said.

Some of those barriers could be related to regulations and policies that affect the charging of electric vehicles, she said, whether it’s the varying rates utilities assess at different times, rules prohibiting the resale of electricity except by utilities or local zoning and building codes.

The project also will consider policies and incentives that could make electric vehicles more affordable as well as educational and marketing efforts to promote electric vehicle use, she said.

Portner said the use of electric vehicles has increased in the Grand Valley. She expects that trend to accelerate as more types of vehicles come on the market, including such full-sized automobiles as the new Chevrolet Volt.

The City of Grand Junction already uses one electric vehicle in its fleet. A meter reader uses the vehicle to monitor parking meters and ticket violators.

What’s more, an electric vehicle charging station has been installed at the Spring Hill Suites in downtown Grand Junction.

As the use of electric vehicles continues to increase, Portner said she wouldn’t be surprised if the city and other government entities and businesses purchased such vehicles for their fleets. Increased demand also could lead to the installation of more charging stations — perhaps in parking garages.

More information about Project FEVER is available online at