Ravell Call, Deseret News
The world's first round-the-world tour in a standard electric car drives on South Temple as it stops in Salt Lake Tuesday, April 3, 2012. Utah received a B-plus for legislation it passed this last session promoting the use of electric vehicles and improving infrastructure. The report card measured Utah against five other Southwest states and has it second only to Colorado.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature's passage of four key measures boosting public policy on electric vehicles earned the state a B-plus and the second highest grade in a southwest region comprised of six states.

An annual report card issued by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project praised the state for eight clean energy bills passed during the session that ended in March, with four that specifically deal with electric vehicles.

“Among the six Southwestern states, Colorado and Utah have done the most to promote electric vehicles, offering a substantial tax credit for the purchase of EVs and a wide range of policies to support their adoption,” said Will Toor, transportation director for the organization.

Specifically, the organization noted the passage of these bills:

HB19, which clarifies that businesses won't be regulated as a "utility" should they offer charging stations to paying customers.

HB61, which makes money available in grants to retrofit or replace vehicles to meet clean air standards.

HB74, which makes electric vehicle owners eligible for a $1,500 tax credit.

HB99, which requires 50 percent of the state fleet be alternative fuel or high fuel efficiency vehicles by 2018.

Utah specifically earned high marks for its new fleet requirement and making grants available to the public or private sector for clean vehicles.

The assessment is in its second year and graded Utah along with Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Wyoming. Colorado received the highest grade, A-minus, and Wyoming came in at the bottom of the pack with an F.

The report card noted that the Utah Department of Administrative Services purchased two Nissan Leafs for use and testing by the state Department of Environmental Quality. In addition, six charging stations have been set up at DEQ, three of which are available to the public.

Earlier this month, the state's first fast-charging electric vehicle station for public use debuted at the Salt Lake County Government Center. The 480-volt direct current station is capable of delivering a charge in as little as 10 minutes.

The project's annual report card aims to provide a glimpse at state-level policies that encourage the transformation to plug-in electric vehicles.

Because they still constitute new transportation technology, the plug-ins have a wide variety of barriers to overcome before they become widely adopted, such as cost of the vehicles themselves and availability of supporting infrastructure.

As part of the effort to help with the transition, the U.S. Department of Energy has partnered with private companies on what's called the EV Project, facilitating the installation of more than 8,000 residential and public charging stations in the country.

Utah's grade moved from B-minus to a B-plus in the first grade cycle. Other policy shifts that could boost the grade from the project include providing rebates, exempting electric vehicles from sales tax or offering tax credits to manufacturers.

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