Electrifying initiatives continue to move forward in Michigan as highly anticipated plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) begin to hit the market. In February 2010, Michigan Public Service Commission’s Chairman Orjiakor Isiogu began to assemble a taskforce to prepare Michigan for the deployment of PEVs and PEV infrastructure. The taskforce has been addressing issues such as education, incentives, rates, infrastructure issues, and building code changes to streamline the installation of charging equipment.

As a part of the Michigan Plug-in Preparedness Taskforce, Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) has been working to identify and address barriers to the deployment of electric vehicles and assess the impact new charging infrastructure will have on the electric distribution system. In 2010, BWL was awarded Federal Appropriation funding to put towards establishing their Plug-In Electric Vehicle Community Project. BWL customers and local municipalities are able to apply to participate in this project if they are interested in buying a Chevrolet Volt. If accepted, the participant will receive a match to the $7,500 federal tax incentive for a PEV along with a level two charger with free installation. Project participants are required to allow access to vehicle and charging data and provide feedback about their PEV experience for three years.

Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities (GLACC) will expand on these efforts by conducting an Electric Vehicle Feasibility Study some time this year. This study will build off of information already collected by the Taskforce to assess the tri-counties needs for electric vehicle deployment and infrastructure. GLACC will use the results from this study to determine the availability and demand for electric vehicles along with public education and training needs.

On May 10, members of the Michigan Plug In Preparedness Taskforce met with state legislators to encourage support and answer questions. The State’s Public Service Commission, automotive companies, utility companies and the Michigan Economic and Development Corporation presented information to build excitement around the electric vehicle industry development in Michigan. After the committee meeting, representatives had the opportunity to participate in a ride and drive outside the State Capital that showcased new, PEVs.

The development of the electric vehicle industry is also highly anticipated at the national level. This April, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the Department of Energy’s (DOE) latest strategy to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles in effort to reduce U.S. oil imports by one-third by 2025.  Part of the DOE’s new strategy includes $5 million available in funding that can be awarded to communities who are preparing to plug-in.  Under this grant, local governments and private companies can partner to apply for funding to help accelerate installation of electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure within their community. Learn more about electric vehicles and infrastructure from the DOE’s web site.