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Hickenlooper will sign bills in Loveland Wednesday

For Michael Koenig and others who own electric vehicles, Loveland happens to be a great place to drive a plug-in car, and it’s about to get better.

After years of driving hybrid cars and waiting for an electric vehicle to hit the market, Koenig purchased his plug-in Prius last August.

Six months later, the Washington, D.C.-based Electrification Coalition launched “Drive Electric Northern Colorado,” a pilot program involving the cities of Loveland and Fort Collins and Colorado State University.

“I always kind of had a feeling that this area would move in that direction,” Koenig said. “I’m really excited about Loveland and Fort Collins.”

Building an ‘Ecosystem’

The aim of the program is simple: the Electrification Coalition hopes that Northern Colorado will serve as a national model for how to incorporate electric vehicles into personal, professional and municipal settings.

Other communities around the country are running similar programs with help from the Electrification Coalition, but Ben Prochazka, who serves as the coalition’s director of strategic initiatives, said that Northern Colorado is unique.

“We’re building an ‘ecosystem’ that’s going to support the rapid adaptation of EVs,” he said.

A large part of the job means working against a culture that has formed a well-established habit of running vehicles on gasoline rather than a rechargeable battery.

Those who have actually driven an EV are still in the minority, but by bringing the cars — and local owners like Loveland’s Koenig — to a variety of events, the Electrification Coalition hopes that will change.

“I think the key thing at this point in time in this region is education — a lot of people have a lot of questions,” said Koenig, who participates in Ride and Drive events as an “EV enthusiast.”

In Loveland, the city itself aims to lead by example with its use of Nissan Leaf all-electric cars. There are two
After plugging his Toyota plug-in hybrid car into a public charging station, Michael Hoenig presses a button on the station to start the charging process in a parking lot on First Street and Monroe Avenue in Loveland on Monday. ( Jenny Sparks )
the city is currently leasing, but starting June 1, they’ll have three more.
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