SALT LAKE CITY — As part of the push to curb Wasatch Front air pollution, a new nonprofit group has been launched to promote electric vehicles and boost the infrastructure for the vehicles by adding more charging stations.
Leaders For Clean Air is made up of Utah-based businesses such as 3form, Backcountry.com, Black Diamond, Cubiscan, Ken Garff, Lancer Automotive Group, Packsize and Vivint — all of which have installed electric charging stations on-site.
“We all have to do our part to improve our air quality, and Utah’s business community is stepping up with a new initiative to move the ball forward,” Gov. Gary Herbert said in a prepared statement. “By working to make it more practical to own an electric vehicle in Utah, Leaders for Clean Air is helping to advance an important new technology that has the potential to boost our air quality efforts.”
The group's formation was announced Tuesday at the state Capitol, where goals for the organization were detailed, such as the establishment of 2,000 level 2 charging stations.
Packsize CEO Hanko Kiessner came up with idea for Leaders for Clean Air, which seeks to tap leaders from companies that collectively employ 100,000 workers.
At Packsize, 16 electric vehicle charging stations were installed, helping to facilitate 15 percent of the workforce's commuter miles that are emission-free. Packsize estimates that workers save about $1,000 a year in fuel, service costs, time and vehicle depreciation, compared with their former mode of transportation.
The motto for the organization is "Plug into a Cleaner Wasatch Front," in a pay-it-forward model. An interested business can receive a free charging station, and in turn it agrees to make an investment of about $550 for a charging station for the next business.
Jeffrey Barrett with the Utah Office of Energy Development said boosting electric vehicle infrastructure in the state is paramount given the explosive consumer interest in the cars.
"We look at the numbers each quarter, and it is exponential growth," he said. "We are seeing a huge increase in electric vehicle ownership."
Barrett said tax commission records show that between 1,600 and 1,700 electric vehicles are registered in the state, a number he said is only going to increase given the diversity of vehicles on the market and the uptick in consumer interest.
"There are more than a dozen electric vehicles available on the market," Barrett said. "Most people's commute can be handled with EVs given the current range."
The Office of Energy Development, he added, supports the EV initiative because the technology cuts emissions while adding value to the electricity grid.
In December, the office launched the website www.utahelectricvehicles.org aimed at providing information on the increasingly popular technology and helpful hints should consumers be interested in making a purchase.
The website serves as a one-stop shop for information on electric vehicles and features an interactive charging station map, facts and figures about the technology, and a buyer's guide.
Last May, the office joined with Salt Lake City and the Utah Clean Air Partnership for the installation of new charging stations downtown. This year it is partnering with Utah Valley and Utah State universities to add more stations.