Based on manufacturer plans, the transportation sector is on the cusp of a historic change.
Will drivers make the leap from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric power? Or will they hold back, concerned about the perceived lack to infrastructure that would allow a driver to recharge vehicle batteries on a long-distance trip?
It's called "range anxiety," and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is hoping to relieve some of that concern. EGLE's Energy Services has awarded a first round of grants that will support projects by 24 recipients to install 76 plug-in direct current fast chargers (DCFC) at 36 sites across the state.
There are still some gaps, however, in the effort to build out a statewide network under EGLE's Charge Up Michigan program. There is a specific need for partners in the Upper Peninsula and the northwest and northeast portions of the Lower Peninsula for grants that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
A statewide EV fast charging network in Michigan will boost driver confidence that chargers will be available and operational in a well-lit, safe environment, improve air quality, reduce vehicle emissions, and protect public health and the environment.
"This is a significant step toward an electrified transportation future that will keep Michigan in the forefront of cutting-edge mobility and writes another chapter in the state's storied history of innovation in the transportation industry," said EGLE Director Liesl Clark.
Energy Services previously worked with experts at Michigan State University to map optimal locations for charging stations throughout the Lower and Upper Peninsulas along well-traveled routes to allow EV drivers a network of access points that will make it more convenient for drivers to reach their destinations.
Charging stations have been installed and are operational as of late September 2020 in Ann Arbor, Big Rapids, Cadillac, Gaylord, Marshall and Saugatuck. Others are expected to be online by the end of 2020 in communities including Alma, Clare, Dundee, East Lansing, Elk Rapids, Flint, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Grayling, Holt, Ionia, Kawkawlin, Muskegon, Norway, Troy and Whitmore Lake.
The grants come from the Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement funds allocated to Michigan.
Under the Charge Up Michigan program, EGLE contributes a third of the cost — up to $70,000 — to install a DC fast charging station, including site preparation, equipment installation, networking fees and signage. The host site will also pay a third and the local utility pays the other third of the cost.