A new regional partnership, Charge Up Midwest, has recently formed to accelerate the sales and use of EV’s in the region with the express goal of making the Midwest an EV leader.
Midwest Energy News recently covered Charge Up Midwest’s activities in an article featuring their work to influence the use of Volkswagen settlement funds, as well as their work with electric utilities to increase access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
One of the first actions of the Charge Up Midwest campaign was to submit comments to Volkswagen to encourage investments in electric vehicle infrastructure here in Michigan and across the Midwest as a whole. The comments highlighted the unique opportunities the Midwest presents for electric Vehicles. With major population centers like Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Columbus, the value of a DC fast charging network along the highway corridors is critical to supporting EV adoption, as well as lowering the region's transportation carbon footprint.
The new partnership is made up of made up of seven Midwest clean energy groups, led by the Ecology Center. Other groups include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Great Plains Institute, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Clean Fuels Ohio, Sierra Club, and Fresh Energy.
Charge Up Midwest members also worked with allies in Michigan to submit comments to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on its proposed Volkswagen Beneficiary Mitigation Plan. With Michigan poised to receive $60.3M from the settlement’s National Mitigation Fund, Charge Up partners supported MDEQ’s proposal to set aside the maximum, or close to $8.5M, for new EV charging infrastructure. The comments also supported MDEQ’s proposal to prioritize spending in areas of Michigan that currently have the highest nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission levels, or emissions of particulates.
The comments urged increased spending on advanced zero emission vehicle (ZEV) technologies, as part of its diesel vehicle replacement funding. Charge Up Midwest partners suggested that a minimum of 35% of the vehicle replacement funds be spent to support transformative ZEV technologies that could help them get established in the market as well as build experience among potential vehicle fleet managers. The groups also suggested that spending to replace school and transit busses also include a commitment to piloting some ZEV models rather than just cleaner diesel busses. And finally, regarding the funding to support EV infrastructure, the group recommends that Michigan prioritize publicly-available Level 3 charging on major highway corridors and Level 2 charging at workplaces, multi-unit dwellings and popular public locations.
Charge Up Midwest partners also hope to accelerate the adoption of EV’s by working collaboratively with utilities and other stakeholders to increase investments in EV charging.
In Michigan, partners worked closely with Consumers Energy on a proposal to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to invest in an EV charging network across its service territory. (see story below). Although Consumers Energy ultimately withdrew the plan, the MPSC is planning an Electric Vehicle Technical Conference in the summer to gather input from stakeholders regarding the best ways for Michigan’s utilities to invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the state.
Engaging stakeholders with an interest in the future of electric vehicles—policymakers, automakers, utility companies, and environmental and consumer advocacy groups—is vital to figuring out the best ways to increase the number of electric vehicles produced in our region as well as on our roads. Perhaps, with new collaborations from Charge Up Midwest partners, the MPSC and other stakeholders here in Michigan, this will be the year that our state begins to make substantial progress on EVs.
Until next time,