Best of the West: Electric vehicle growth, geothermal potential in Texas, biodegradable firefighting foam, the Super Bowl of surfing

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on the latest news in the West. Here are the top stories for the week starting Jan. 23, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images via SmartCities Dive and Martin Caprile / MJC Hawaii /

Last year, electric vehicle (EV) sales increased 65% nationally, according to Kelly Blue Book. However, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reported that public charging stations only grew by 5.1%.

As the West leads EV growth and development, ensuring that the entire region has adequate charging infrastructure is a top priority for Western Governors

California dominated EV sales in 2022, accounting for 40% of zero-emissions and hybrid vehicles sold nationally. The U.S. aims for 50% of new vehicle sales to be EVs or plug-in hybrids by 2030.

OregonWashington, and Hawaii tied for the No. 2 spot of most EVs sold in 2022, according to Atlas EV Hub. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality plans to launch an education and outreach campaign in rural communities to raise awareness and increase access to ownership. 

Electric vehicle sales in Colorado had a record-breaking 2022, increasing its market share to 10.5% from 6.5% in 2021.

It's important to note that a study found that buyers with range anxiety were more receptive to purchasing vehicles with the option of at-home charging.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 80% of charging occurs at home. While public infrastructure grows with funding from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, which WGA provided recommendations for, more residential options are needed to prevent roadblocks to EV adoption.  

Amperage Capital out of Texas plans to equip 100 multifamily properties with chargers over the next two years. The company will cover the cost of outfitting parking spots, which tenants can rent. California and Colorado offer incentives for multifamily property owners who install residential charging ports.

A lack of chargers in rural and underserved communities is another barrier to EV adoption the West is addressing. 

Colorado installed an innovative charger near the Nebraska border in Julesburg to ease range anxiety. It's easy to assemble, requires less infrastructure, and charges the equipment's internal battery station rather than using electricity directly from the grid, which can ease stress. Even though there's only one EV in the surrounding Sedgwick County, the addition could help bring 1 million EVs to the Centennial State's roads by 2030. 

Powell, Wyoming, doesn't have any chargers but could add six to attract tourists by the end of 2023. Between federal funding and automobile dealership requirements, businesses including General Motors, Toyota, Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC are helping fund stations. Learn more about oppotunites to boost local economies with electric vhecile chaging stations in  WGA's Out West podcast.  

The California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project is directing $30 million to help nonprofits, businesses, public agencies, and tribes fund high-power fast chargers in rural and underserved communities. Project rebates could equal 50% of overall costs or up to $100,000 depending on charger capacities. 

Geothermal in Texas: Researchers with the University of Texas at Austin, Southern Methodist University, Rice University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Houston contributed to a study that examined the location and quality of geothermal resources in the Lone Star State. Additionally, the report analyzed the role of oil and gas in producing geothermal energy. Learn more about repurposing oil and gas wells for geothermal production in an episode of WGA's Out West podcast. 

Local School Lunches: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding its Local Food for Schools program to Oklahoma. The $3 million agreement with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture brings local food to students and educates them about the production process. Langston University and Oklahoma State University will help underserved farmers and ranchers participate. "We get an opportunity to talk about raising the cattle on our pasture and the process that it takes to feed them and to care for them," Amy Ratzlaff, a cattle rancher in Enid, said. “Even the process of breaking ice in the wintertime and just the production that goes into it, students are very receptive to it.”

Biodegradable Firefighting Foam: Colorado-based AspenGlo and California's Multi-Inc. created a groundbreaking fire-resistant foam that could protect structures from wildfires up to 3,000 degrees. The environmentally conscious foam, which took seven years to develop, is biodegradable. Watch a WGA webinar to learn more about other advancements, including the use of geospatial data, to plan mitigation projects. 

The Super Bowl of Surfing: For the first time in seven years, Hawaii hosted The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, known as the Super Bowl of Surfing. The prestigious competition, founded in 1984, only occurs when the waves are consistently 40 feet between mid-December to mid-March. This year's event was the tenth time ever that conditions aligned, and Luke Shepardson of Oʻahu won first place.

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