DTE Energy, a Detroit-based diversified energy company, and Consumers Energy have pledged to make interstate travel easier for electric vehicle (EV) owners by 2022.
Six energy companies will join in facilitating the construction of a vast network of fast-charging stations across the Midwest from Michigan to Kansas, making it possible for EV owners to drive longer distances without worrying about their next charge.
Automotive industry watchers believe that the lack of convenient fast charging – given that the number of fast-chargers is significantly less than the number of gas stations on the highways – has been a factor holding some vehicle shoppers back from purchasing EVs. DTE’s and Consumers’ pledge to assist in the creation of the Midwest charging network will help solve this challenge by enabling clean transportation for many travelers well into the future.
”Consumers Energy is committed to building the backbone of the charging network for electric vehicles across Michigan,” says Brian Rich, senior vice president for customer experience at Consumers Energy. “We know we can play an important role in charging the growth of EVs in our state and region, and know that will be good for Michigan’s economy, our communities and the environment.”
In 2019, DTE Energy introduced its Charging Forward program offering incentives for its business customers to install, own and operate direct current fast chargers (DCFCs) along major highway corridors in Southeast Michigan. To date, eight fast chargers are operational in Ann Arbor, Troy and Northville, with more than 40 additional DCFCs in development across DTE’s service territory.
DTE believes the combination of initiatives like the Midwest charging network, utility charger rebates and available Volkswagen settlement funds should help create the foundational charging network needed to support the expected 130 EV model launches from automakers by the end of 2022.
Consumers Energy’s PowerMIDrive program offers rebates to customers for EV chargers at homes, workplaces and in public locations. Today, fast charging locations – which can fill a vehicle’s battery in an hour – are in place in Cadillac, Gaylord, Marshall, Big Rapids and Saugatuck, with plans for over 30 more to be operating by next year. In addition, Consumers Energy has accelerated plans to electrify its own fleet of company vehicles.
According to the Edison Electric Institute, more than 1.4 million EVs are in use today, a number expected to grow to nearly 20 million by 2030. The institute anticipates that a robust network of EV charging stations will be required to serve the needs of these drivers.
Companies joining DTE Energy and Consumers Energy in the charging network’s memorandum of cooperation include Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, Oklahoma Gas and Energy and Evergy (covering parts of Missouri and Kansas). Additional companies have expressed interest and may soon join the collaborative effort.
Construction of the network will be subject to regulatory approval in each region.
Photo: Consumer Energy’s PowerMIDrive web page