SALT LAKE CITY — A group of Utah transportation stakeholders have met for the first time to help iron out the future of the state’s electric vehicle infrastructure.
The Utah Electrification of Transportation Infrastructure Steering Committee is tasked with guiding Utah to an electric future, with infrastructure that is both sustainable and economical, according to a news release.
“We’re at a tipping point for electrification of transportation,” said Utah Department of Transportation Executive Director Carlos Braceras, who chairs the committee. “Our mission here is to help Utahns live healthier lives by improving air quality while strengthening the economy.”
The Utah State Legislature recently passed a bill to create the steering committee and provide $2.1 million to Utah State University’s Center for Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification (ASPIRE). The center will lead the charge in developing a community, state and industry transportation action plan to improve air quality while enhancing the economy.
The ASPIRE Engineering Research Center was created in 2020 through a $25 million National Science Foundation grant, renewable to $50 million over 10 years, to accelerate the creation of electrified corridors that will change the nation’s infrastructure as we know it.
“We need tomorrow’s technologies to do this thing right,” said Dr. Regan Zane, director of ASPIRE. “Now is the time to inject innovation into developing the future vision of our communities and transportation systems. This will inform critical decisions today on infrastructure investments to accelerate our path to clean air and a reduced cost to move people and goods.”
“The question we face now is how we transition to that electrified future,” Braceras added. “It’s a complicated process that requires careful planning and a coordinated approach across agencies, industries and communities to build a sustainable solution.”
The committee includes representatives from state transportation, transit, environmental quality, energy, and economic development officials as well as industry representatives:
- Carlos Braceras, executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation.
- Bryce Bird, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality.
- Bailey Toolson, state energy program manager at the Office of Energy Development.
- Jay Fox, executive director of the Utah Transit Authority.
- Ryan Starks, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity.
- Regan Zane, interim chair of the industry advisory board and chair of Utah State University’s Center for Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification (ASPIRE).
The board will also include a representative from a major power provider to be appointed by the governor. The ASPIRE Center will form an industry advisory board with representation across the impacted industries, communities and stakeholders.
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