By - Jim Vess

Michigan utilities propose $20 million in programs to boost EV charging stations

Energize Weekly, August 22, 2018

Michigan’s two largest utilities are proposing electric vehicle (EV) charging programs totaling $20.5 million that would add thousands of stations in the state, according to filings with the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Both plans also tie development of residential charging stations to time-of-use rates (TOU) aimed at getting customers to charge their vehicles in off-peak hours.

Detroit-based DTE Energy has $13 million, three-year plan it calls “Charging Forward” that would provide incentives for a range of charging stations—from residential units to $50,000 DC fast charging stations, which can give a 150-mile to 210-mile charge in an hour.

Consumers Energy, which serves Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, is proposing a $7.5 million plan offering $500 rebates for home charging units, with the aim of engaging hundreds of customers, and adding 24 fast-charging stations.

There are 467 public charging stations in the state and just 16 fast-charging stations, according to Consumers Energy.

“Consumers need to feel confident that fueling options are available to them to consider purchasing an EV,” Camilo Serna, DTE Energy vice president of corporate strategy, said in testimony. Serna said that 27 percent of people in a utility-sponsored survey said they “felt they knew enough about EVs, but they still would not buy one, citing a lack of charging stations as the primary factor in their decision.”

On the residential side DTE Energy said it is aiming to offer rebates of up to $500 to about 2,800 residential customers who own an EV and install a qualified “smart” Level 2 charger. “The customer must enroll in a year-round TOU rate and commit to enroll in future DR [demand response] programs,” DTE Energy said in its filing.

Additional Level 2 infrastructure will be focused primarily in workplaces and multi-unit dwellings with the goal of adding 1,000 charging ports. They plan calls for creating about 32 fast-charging stations, with highway corridors a key location.

DTE Energy is in the process of developing and installing three fast charging stations in Southeast Michigan to gain expertise and learn more about the market.  These three fast-charging pilots are in Ann Arbor, downtown Detroit, and a highway corridor station powered by battery storage.

DTE Energy is seeking an okay from the public service commission to create a regulatory asset to finance the rebate program, which would then be repaid through rates.

The plan by Jackson, Mich.-based Consumers Energy is its second attempt. A $15 million charging proposal submitted in 2016 was withdrawn after it encountered opposition including from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.

Consumers Energy said it would create special off-peak charging rates for EV owners who charge their vehicles overnight, shifting load and saving those customers money.

California, New York and Delaware have also embarked on programs to develop charging networks for their states.

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