Michigan is making moves on utility involvement in electrification

EV Volt

As we head into cold and rainy weather, it’s hard not to recall Consumers Energy’s withdrawn proposal for charging infrastructure expansion from last winter. Thankfully, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is taking action to promote pilot programs that could help build out EV charging infrastructure and alleviate range anxiety in the state.

As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the MPSC is currently taking public comments on various ways to implement pilot programs that focus on incorporating utilities in infrastructure development and consumer education. While the Commission is expecting to hear mainly from utilities, automakers, charging equipment manufacturers and environmental groups, anyone is allowed to comment until November 17.

Investments in new EV charging infrastructure is vital for the state to gain a leadership position in electrification. While Michigan is in the top half of states for infrastructure integration, we still lag behind many other states that have been more proactive. It’s time for policymakers, utilities, automakers, and others to work together to build a robust network of charging stations throughout the state and to better educate the public about the benefits of electrification.

The MPSC’s current effort to promote new EV pilot programs will hopefully get things rolling. As argued by the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council’s Liesl Clark in Bridge, utilities need to play a vital role in Michigan’s electrification efforts. They have the financial backing and experience to invest in long-term infrastructure projects, and they have the outreach abilities to educate the public on the benefits of an electrified future. Consumers Energy certainly indicated an interest in supporting EV infrastructure development with its proposal last year, and DTE Energy has recently been showing renewed interest as well. Now is the time for Michigan to make a bold move.  

We encourage you to participate in the public comment period to help make this happen. Send comments via mail to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909 or via email to mpscedockets@michigan.gov, Reference Case No. U-18368. The comment period ends at 5 PM, November 17.

In other news about electrification advancement in Michigan, Ford launched a new team focused on electrification, GM unveiled plans for new EV models and Mumbai based automaker Mahindra plans to open an auto manufacturing facility in Auburn Hills. In a potential setback, however, the latest federal tax proposal threatens to eliminate the $7,500 EV tax incentive.

As the weather gets worse, remember to drive safe, and drive electric.

Until next time, 

 
 
Charles GriffithCharles Griffith
Climate and Energy Program Director 
Ecology Center