Colorado Electric Byways Tourism Toolkit

In 2021, the Colorado Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap laid out a pathway for the state to achieve its GHG emission reduction targets of 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050 (from a 2005 baseline). A crucial element of effort is the electrification of the statewide transportation system, and the Colorado tourism industry is encouraged to join the state in advancing this effort by installing electric vehicle charging stations in priority locations across the state.

Notably, the Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways Commission has prioritized the electrification of the 26 Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways as an initial milestone. Once a byway becomes electrified, it also becomes recognized as a Colorado Electric Byway.

Colorado Electric Byways must have sufficient charging infrastructure in place for electric vehicle travelers to complete a journey along the byway. The specific requirements for recognition as a Colorado Electric Byway are: 

  • dual-port DC fast charging stations located at least every 100 miles within the start and terminus of the byway 
  • when byways are less than 100 miles, a dual-port DC fast charging station must be available within 15 miles of the start or terminus of the byway

Installation of electric vehicle charging stations has many benefits beyond the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Examples include:

  • attracting niche audiences to your destination that are already interested in reducing their travel impacts
  • keeping Colorado’s natural areas and tourism attractions clean
  • inspiring electric vehicles travelers to stay longer and spend more money while they charge

Although recognition as a Colorado Electric Byway requires dual-port DC fast charging stations, communities along the byways are encouraged to also consider installing level 2 charging stations at lodging properties, restaurants, attractions, and trailheads to supplement existing infrastructure and enhance the overall visitor experience.

The Colorado Tourism Office has partnered with the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado Energy Office to assist communities along the 26 Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways to install charging infrastructure. Review the resources in the sections below to learn more.

Overview

Type: Toolkit

For: Tourism partners

OEDIT division: Colorado Tourism Office

As of February 2023, the Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways Commission has recognized 13 of the 26 Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways as Colorado Electric Byways.

Please see the list of recognized Colorado Electric Byways below:

  1. Alpine Loop Scenic Byway (High-Clearance + 4WD vehicle required)
  2. Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway
  3. Colorado River Headwaters Scenic Byway
  4. Flat Tops Scenic Byway
  5. Grand Mesa Scenic Byway
  6. Guanella Pass Scenic Byway
  7. Lariat Loop Scenic Byway
  8. Silver Thread Scenic Byway
  9. Top of the Rockies Scenic
  10. Trail Ridge Road Scenic Byway
  11. Santa Fe Trail Scenic Byway
  12. South Platte River Trail Scenic Byway
  13. West Elk Loop Scenic Byway

Colorado Department of Local Affairs

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs supports electrified byways through two grants.

Colorado Main Street Program
This program gives mini-grants to communities that use other funding for charging stations in downtown areas. Main Street communities may also ask for technical assistance to plan and design electric vehicle solutions.

Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Funds
These funds help local governments add alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure into fleet management programs. The Colorado Energy Office offers funding support for charging stations through the Charge Ahead Colorado grant.

Colorado Energy Office

The Colorado Energy Office manages the following program to support electric vehicle charging stations.

Charge Ahead Colorado
Charge Ahead Colorado provides financial support for electric vehicle charging stations. Charge Ahead Colorado typically has three application rounds per year. Public and private entities can apply for grants to install Level 2 or Level 3 charging stations, specifically at tourist destinations.

DC Fast-Charging Plazas Program
This semi-annual grant program supports larger deployments of DC fast-charging infrastructure around the state using a combination of federal National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) and state Community Access Enterprise (CAE) funds. The grant program will be managed by the Colorado Energy Office in partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Eligibility

The Colorado Department of Transportation can install highway signage for eligible direct current (DC) fast-charging locations that have:

  • DC fast-charging equipment with CCS and CHAdeMO port compatibility
  • maximum distance from interchange of one mile in urban areas or three miles in rural areas
  • public restroom facilities
  • service available a minimum of 12 hours per day and seven days per week
  • drinking water

How to apply

To request a highway sign for your direct current (DC) fast-charging station, you will need: 

  • a detailed map or aerial photo of the facility
  • a photo or other proof of a station visible from the interstate crossroads
  • onsite signing indicating the availability of charging at the location
  • a completed Highway Sign Request Form (PDF)

Email these documents to Mike King, Assistant Director of Electrification and Energy, Office of Innovative Mobility at Colorado Department of Transportation.

Electric vehicle travel is an emerging trend in the U.S. tourism industry and Colorado is a national leader in advancing experiences related to it. Please find a series of recommendations below for your consideration once you have charging stations installed in your destination.

You can take these steps to market to electric vehicle owners:

  1. List your electric vehicle station on the following websites:
  2. Promote your community’s electric vehicle charging stations on social media channels
  3. Enlist local electric vehicle drivers to comment positively on social media channels about charging stations in your community
  4. Apply for Tourism Paid Media Cooperative. This program provides matching funds and discounts to help tourism partners advertise through group purchasing and discounts.

Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan
In 2018 Colorado released its first electric vehicle plan to develop electric vehicle fast-charging corridors across the state and set a goal of 940,000 electric vehicles by 2030. This plan was updated in 2020 and will continue to be updated in future years.

ReCharge Colorado
ReCharge Colorado coaches help consumers, local governments, workplaces, and multiunit housing developments identify savings, grant opportunities and other advantages related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. ReCharge coaches also help build local stakeholder support for the adoption of electric vehicles.

Clean Energy Economy for the Region
Based in Carbondale, Clean Energy Economy for the Region’s mission is to speed up the transition to a clean energy economy, increase energy independence, and reduce our contribution to climate change.

Garfield Clean Energy
Garfield Clean Energy helps the residents, businesses, and local governments of Garfield County become more energy-efficient and use clean energy to create a stronger, more resilient economy.

EValuateCO Dashboard
EValuateCO is a comprehensive dashboarding tool that provides insight into the current state of vehicle electrification in the state of Colorado. The dashboard allows people to view information on EV deployment, current statewide EV infrastructure, and details on charging use for a selected number of stations. It is a great resource for anyone seeking information on vehicle electrification in Colorado. EV registration data is updated monthly and charging data is updated quarterly.

Colorado National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program
Established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) formula program funding will provide $5 billion over five years for states to deploy electric vehicle (EV) chargers along highway corridors. Colorado is expected to receive $57 million over the next five years to create an EV charging network across the state.

Clean Cities Coalition Network
This national network leads public-private partnerships to develop electric vehicle network support.

National Renewable Energy Lab Sustainable Mobility Initiative
This initiative supports activities that provide information and research on trends, technology, and needs.

Petroleum Cleanup and Redevelopment Fund
This fund accepts applications to investigate and clean up contamination at abandoned former gas stations and other petroleum storage tank properties.

U.S. Department of Energy Funding, Financing, and Technical Support for Electric Vehicles
This program provides guidance on applying for federal funds to support a local electric vehicle network.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Alternative Fuels Data Center
This resource provides information about alternative fueling stations in the United States and Canada. Users can filter by state and fuel type for specific information about Colorado.

PlugShare.com
PlugShare is the world’s largest EV driver community. Users contribute station reviews and photos to help drivers make the most informed charging decisions possible.

Program Manager

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