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.
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
It’s February which means it’s time for the Ninth Annual Clear the Air Challenge! If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to get signed up and start identifying how you can drive less and drive smarter to save pollution. Read more
This Tuesday, local business Packsize International unveiled its new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at its Salt Lake City campus.
The site now hosts 52 total EV charging ports, including two fast-charge stations, making it the largest charging installation in Utah.
And the best news is that the stations will be available for use at no financial cost both to Packsize employees and the general public.
Rocky Mountain Power awarded Packsize International with a $111,280 incentive check to offset the cost of the Level 2 electric vehicle chargers. These EV incentives are available to any Utah company that wants to install charging infrastructure!
Packsize is a leader in sustainability and forging solutions to our local air quality problems. It spearheaded the creation of a non-profit, Leaders for Clean Air, in 2015 to encourage businesses to install charging infrastructure. Because vehicles are the largest source of wintertime air pollution and EVs have no tailpipe emissions, incentivizing employees to make the switch to an electric vehicle by offering workplace charging is a tangible way businesses can get involved in promoting better air quality.
Leaders for Clean Air now has an alliance of dozens of businesses and has helped catalyze the installation of 184 workplace EV charging stations in the last two years.
At the ribbon cutting, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, along with other Leaders for Clean Air founding members, provided updates on the clean air advancements and future goals for Salt Lake’s airshed. Leaders for Clean Air also presented a charging unit to Attorney General Sean Reyes, who spoke at the event.
Mayor Biskupski and Rep. Patrice Arent, Clean Air Caucus founder & Chair, demonstrate how to use a new Level 2 EV charging unit at Packsize’s campus.
We’re in the midst of a yucky inversion. At one point on Monday, the amount of particulate pollution crossed the 55.5 microgram/cubic meter threshold, which puts us in the red category of “Unhealthy” territory.
Unfortunately, our weather patterns and geography mean we have to work extra hard to reduce what goes into the air.
One of the simplest things you can do is to leave the car at home.
Did you know that the majority of pollution comes when you simply turn your car on?
It’s the phenomenon of “Cold Starts.”
It means that 60-90% of your commute’s emissions come in the first three minutes. Pretty incredible, huh?
You can learn more about cold starts from UCAIR’s great blog post and video below.
So what can you do? Well, aim to keep your car parked as frequently as possible — even if it’s just for a day, or a single trip you’re skipping
How to avoid the Cold Start: Read more