Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan announced the Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit this week. The plan is to get enough EV charging stations into the ground to give drivers the opportunity to visit the state’s west coast in zero-emission vehicles and not worry about where they’ll be able to charge the battery.
It will take time to get the chargers installed, as the big plan for 2021 is a feasibility study.
Last year, the Department of Energy announced it would build up alternative fuel stations along I-94 from Michigan’s border with Canada all the way to Montana.
For a decade, most maps showing electric-vehicle-friendly highways and regions of the country have highlighted the East and West Coasts. But a new proposal announced by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week will help turn Michigan into another EV charging hotspot.
It’s called the Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit, and the idea is to build enough EV charging stations on Michigan’s western coast that electric-vehicle owners will be able to drive up the shore as well as reach “attractions, lighthouses, parks and local businesses” without worry about where they will recharge. Whitmer called the Circuit “the best new road trip for electric vehicle owners in America” when she made the announcement at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, according to the Detroit News.
“The circuit is going to entice residents and travelers to explore our incredible coastal communities and amenities while using clean energy, cutting pollution, and helping to protect our air and water,” Whitmer said, according to the News.
It will take time for the Circuit to become a reality, though. The announcement may have happened this week, but the next step is to conduct a feasibility study this year and then, in the coming years, to determine how best to spend money installing the chargers in the right places. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy program will provide $1.25 million in initial funds to build out the network. The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity will also invest up to $5 million as it works with outside organizations on training workers who are prepared for a growing number of electric vehicles on Michigan roads.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s alternative fueling station locator, there are 608 EV Level 2 charging station locations in Michigan, with 1227 total ports. There are also 148 DC fast-charge stations, with 388 ports, in Michigan. Twenty-six of those stations, with 224 ports, belong to the Tesla Supercharger network. Most of the public fast chargers are located in or near Michigan’s cities, including Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing, with around a dozen near the Lake Michigan coast.
Governor Whitmer’s announcement isn’t the only way Michigan is getting more EV chargers and alternative fuel stations. Last year, the Department of Energy and partners announced the Michigan to Montana I-94 Alternative Fuel Corridor, known as M2M, which will stretch 1500 miles along Interstate 94 starting at the Canadian border in Port Huron, Michigan, and continuing all the way to Billings, Montana. The M2M will include EV charging stations as well as stations offering CNG, biofuel, and propane autogas. Adding hydrogen stations in the future is also part of the discussion.
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