A growing number of Teslas silently cruise around this mountain town. And in their quiet wake, questions linger: are Utah’s electric vehicles (EVs) run on coal, can they reach Moab, and do they stink in snow? We turned to local experts to find some answers.
Coal powered or not?
In 2019, 318 EVs were registered in Summit County. Even if they charge on Utah’s current, carbon-gushing grid, they cause fewer emissions than gasoline-powered equivalents. “You eliminate tailpipe emissions with electric vehicles,” says Lisa Yoder, Sustainability Manager for Summit County. That’s good for our air quality.
According to a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Climate Change, a car that gets 25 miles per gallon produces almost 11 times more CO2 over its lifetime than an EV powered by renewable energy. And it’s becoming easier to drive a clean EV in our community, even without access to a home solar array.
By 2022, Park City’s municipal charging stations will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. Summit County’s will follow suit by 2023. Their combined 43 ports are free to drivers, and over 100 more are slated for development. And stay tuned—by 2030, every charging port in Park City could be powered by renewables.
Going the (snowy) distance?
For shoulder-season adventures, Utah has at least 280 charging stations, including plenty along I-80, I-15, and US 6. As for snow, according to Celia Peterson (Environmental Sustainability Project Manager for Park City), several city staffers live in Salt Lake City and drive municipal EVs through Parley’s Canyon all winter long. Snow tires do wonders.
“If city employees can [make it up the canyon, EV drivers] can make it to the ski resorts,” says Peterson. Plus, all-wheel-drive EVs are currently available, and electric pickup trucks debut this year.
Sure, there are valid reasons not to buy an EV in Utah (e.g., the price). For those not in the EV market but still hoping to travel with a smaller carbon footprint, try Park City’s electric buses. They’re free. Download myStop Mobile from the App Store or Google Play to find routes and track PC’s buses.