Denver, CO

Denver OKs $9 million in spending for electric vehicle charging stations, solar rooftops

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) A Denver City Council committee approved spending $9 million Wednesday to install electric vehicle charging stations at city offices and solar rooftops to power city buildings.

The Business, Arts, Workforce and Aviation Services Committee approved three on-call contracts for $3 million each with EnergyLink, LLC, Intermountain Electric, Inc. and McKinstry Essention, LLC. The contracts still need to be approved by the full council at the July 25 meeting.

On-call contracts do not guarantee work but give the city a way to award projects as needed, usually for urgent "on-call" matters.

Council member Amanda Sawyer said on-call contracts typically don't require city departments to explain how they're spending money. She previously criticized using the contracts but said city departments such as Department of Transportation Infrastructure and the airport are moving toward more transparency.

Renewable energy investments underway

There already are 30 solar-powered city buildings and 15 locations with electric vehicle charging stations. This map shown during a PowerPoint presentation to the council shows equipment locations.

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City and County of Denver

According to the presentation, the city will prioritize placing the equipment in under-resourced neighborhoods.

The city created a Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency Department to manage energy resources. According to its website, more than 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from cities.

CASR officials said Monday they will make quarterly reports to the council about the contracts.

Federal, state money available

CASR will work with city partners to install the new equipment. CASR will report the number and locations of new installations to the council and submit grant applications for federal and state funding.

Last year the City Council adopted "Energize Denver," guidelines for energy use.

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The program will provide over $1 billion in benefits to Denver by offsetting carbon costs while providing co-benefits such as improved local and indoor air quality and reduced energy bills, the city explains on its website.

"As the buildings improve their energy use and lower the cost of operations, Denver will become a more competitive, attractive city for businesses and residents."

Contracts part of five-year plan

The city also has created a Climate Protection Fund with a five-year plan. According to city staffer Elizabeth Babcock, the contracts approved Monday fit in with the city's plans for renewable energy, climate adaptation and resiliency, sustainable modes of transportation, carbon-free buildings, and utility bill savings.

Denver voters in 2020 approved ballot question 2A. It raised the local sales and use tax by 0.25 percent to create the Climate Protection Fund. "The CPF, which is expected to raise up to $40M per year, is dedicated to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, supporting climate adaptation, and creating new jobs to improve the lives of Denverites, with efforts focused on the communities most harmed by climate change: low-income households, communities of color and Indigenous people, babies, children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with disabilities, and people with chronic health conditions," the website states.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

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