Much of the U.S. innovation in electric-car incentives and infrastructure has come not from the federal government but from one or more states, especially California.

With the decision years ago to let states either comply with national emission standards or adopt the stiffer California rules, both individual states and regional groups are continuing to pioneer ways to promote plug-in vehicles.

The latest example is a set of three western states that announced this week they would collaborate on a regional electric-car charging network.

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Colorado, Nevada, and Utah will work together next year to develop "complementary plans" for a network of DC fast-charging sites along the Interstate highways that connect them.

The goal, according to the Denver Business Journal, is to ensure there are no gaps that would prevent long-distance electric cars from traveling among the three states.

The offices of the states' three governors jointly made the announcement on Monday, noting that the network would connect highways that total more than 2,000 miles combined.

Public Bobsled Run, Salt Lake City, Utah

Public Bobsled Run, Salt Lake City, Utah

In a statement, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper said the initiative "recognizes that our states will continue to lead the country in the electric vehicle market."

The vision, he noted, was to let both residents and millions of visitors "drive electric vehicles from Denver to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas—from the Rockies to the Pacific."

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Funds for the network are expected come from a variety of national, state, and local government sources and private entities.

Each state will receive some funds from the settlement over Volkswagen's diesel emission cheating scandal, and separately, VW has agreed to establish a $2 billion fund for zero-emission vehicle infrastructure.

Rendering of Tesla battery gigafactory outside Reno, Nevada, Sep 2014

Rendering of Tesla battery gigafactory outside Reno, Nevada, Sep 2014

While Colorado has one of the most generous electric-car purchase incentives in the country—a $5,000 income-tax credit for buyers, or $2,500 for lessees—Utah's incentives are up to $1,500 for battery-electric cars or $1,000 for plug-in hybrids.

Nevada has no purchase or lease incentives at all, though it is the location of both the Tesla battery gigafactory (outside Reno) and the nascent Faraday Future electric-car plant (in North Las Vegas), on which construction recently halted.

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Environmental groups and electric-car advocates applauded the announcement of the coordinated network.

A seamless string of DC fast-charging sites, said Howard Geller, executive director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, “is critical to expanding consumer acceptance of electric vehicles."

[hat tip: Terry Cannon]


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