By Jack Hurty, SLCgreen intern
We’re all used to winter smog here along the Wasatch Front, with brown haze moving in and obscuring the mountains. But there is another pollutant in the valley, invisible but no less dangerous — ozone.
What is Ozone?
Ozone, a molecule consisting of three oxygen atoms, is created when nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) mix and are heated by the sunlight.
NOx and VOCs are typically emitted by motor vehicles, but they can come from consumer products as well as industrial sources. (Read more about how ozone forms.)
Ozone is often found in the Earth’s stratosphere, where it plays a beneficial role by protecting us from damaging rays. But when ozone sits in the atmosphere where we can breathe it in, it can be very damaging to our health.
Photos of residents enjoying SLC Open Streets 2015
by Ardyn Ford, SLCgreen intern
Imagine riding your bike down a wide city street under clear, blue skies. There are no cars in sight. You meander across lanes of traffic, surrounded by fellow bikers, skaters, and joggers. Food trucks and beer gardens line the streets. Echoes of laughter are carried by the warm breeze. Sound too good to be true? It isn’t!
On May 5th, Salt Lake City is bringing back a favorite community event called Open Streets. From 10 AM to 4 PM a section of downtown will be closed to all non-essential vehicular traffic. This means that streets will be open for anything from walking to rollerblading. People are encouraged to bring family and friends for a day of movement and fun community activities including yoga classes, art exhibits, and live music.
The route was designed for easy access to public transit and GREENbike stations in an effort to give people the opportunity to experience alternative, sustainable transportation in a safe environment. Read more
Pop-out doors, instant acceleration, electric bikes, autonomous electric ride-share programs. . . the future is exciting when it comes to electrified transportation.
And, in many cases, the future is here. So local governments better get ready!
That’s why we’re excited to introduce you to a new report SLCgreen recently co-produced with Utah Clean Energy.
The Electrified Transportation Roadmap describes 25 steps that local governments can take to accelerate the electric transportation revolution.
The Roadmap outlines how local governments can implement a variety of electric powered modes of transit including electric vehicles (EVs), e-bikes, electric transit, and electrified ridesharing.
Salt Lake City has integrated a number of these best practices into our internal operations, and we’re now working toward more community-scale projects as part of our Climate Positive SLC plan.
As the capital city’s sustainability department, we also believe it’s important to share what we’ve learned with other local governments.
That’s the idea behind the Roadmap—as well as a workshop we organized March 14 with representatives from 16 local governments across the Wasatch Front to talk about best practices and to view EV options from a variety of local dealers. Read more
Salt Lake City is committed to advancing clean air and one of the most significant ways we can do that is to support the growth of electric vehicles (EVs).
Compared to a new gasoline car, an EV puts out 99% fewer local air pollutants. That makes EVs a big player in our work to clear the air– particularly as our population grows and more vehicles enter our roadways each year.
The good news is that Utahns are buying more and more clean vehicles, but we have a long way to go– these vehicles currently make up less than 0.45% of the market. (This is one reason we don’t want to see high annual registration fees).
One of the ways the City is encouraging the continued growth in EV ownership is by building public charging infrastructure to alleviate “range anxiety.” We currently have 28 public charging ports around the city and are building a couple dozen more this year, including at the Airport!
We’re also excited to let you know that the City Council– on the recommendation of the Administration–voted to waive charging fees, effective immediately.
The $1.00 connection charge and $0.10/kWh fee was put in place last spring to recover the cost for using the station, and to ensure the stations are not being monopolized. We’ll continue to monitor usage and may re-institute the fee at an appropriate time.
But what’s this going to cost you might ask? We estimated an annual financial impact of up to $12,000 in utility costs associated with providing free electricity at existing stations. We also conservatively estimate it will cost $13,000 annually to cover electricity costs at the soon-to-be-unveiled EV stations at the airport.
Salt Lake City received a grant from the Department of Environmental Quality to install the latest round of charging stations– thank you! We’re now happy to continue supporting the expansion of clean vehicles and clean infrastructure in Salt Lake City with free charging.
Do you drive an electric vehicle? Are you on the fence about getting one? Let us know what you think!
CLICK HERE TO SEE STATION LOCATIONS
Do you drive an electric or hybrid vehicle? Do you breathe the air along the Wasatch Front?
If either of those are true, we encourage you to pay attention to the “Transportation Governance Amendments Bill (SB0136)” going through the state legislature.
It is rapidly making its way through the session and, as of February 13, will be heard by the full Senate in the coming days, followed by the House of Representatives.
Overall, we support the bill because of the many good things it would do for funding public transit and road improvements. You can read more via the Salt Lake Tribune.
However, the bill also proposes significant increases in the annual vehicle registration fees for all-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, which are troubling.
We encourage you to learn about the bill and contact your elected officials if you’re concerned about the high fees proposed on electric vehicles– a stymie to clearing the air– even though the bill offers other positive changes.
For an all-electric vehicle, your annual registration fee would increase from $44 to $194.
For a hybrid, the fee would jump from $44 to $65. For all other vehicles, the fees remain at $44.
It is only electric vehicles that are being targeted for annual increases. Read more
Transportation emissions are responsible for nearly 50% of the pollutants that make up our poor air quality. These pollutants become a serious concern during the winter months when normal atmospheric conditions (cool air above, warm air below) become inverted. This allows the air quality in the valley to become filled with particles that can quickly become unhealthy.
While there is much work being done to reduce those emissions (better transit, cleaner vehicles, more active transportation), the fact is– we can and should all help. We can each be a #CleanAirChampion.
There are many ways to participate! They all help the air and give you points in the Challenge:
- Ride the bus or train
- Bike or walk to work
- Link your errands together when you are driving (aka “trip chain”)
- Skip the trip by working from home or saving that errand for later
It all adds up!
The Utah Division of Air Quality estimates that if every driver along the Wasatch Front were to give up driving for just one day per week, it would keep 6,500 tons of emissions (or 85 times the weight of the International Space Station) out of our airshed.