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Utilities launch program to subsidize EV charging stations

Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio

Michigan's two biggest utilities have launched pilot programs to boost the number of electric vehicle charging stations in the state. 

From commuting to longer-distance trips, the programs aim to help electric car owners go anywhere in the state, without worrying about where they will charge the battery next.

DTE Energy and Consumers Energy will offer rebates of $400 to $500 to EV car owners to install home chargers. That roughly covers the equipment cost, but not the electrician's bill. 

There will also be larger rebates for companies to install chargers for public use, and for a small network of  fast chargers along highways.

Fast chargers can top up an EV's battery to about an 80% charge in 20 minutes.

"The real aim of this program is to make electric vehicles more accessible to everybody," says Brian Rich of Consumers Energy.
Michigan Public Service Commissioner Norman Saari says it's time for Michigan to catch up to other states that are building an EV infrastructure, like Georgia and California.

"This is where the world is going, this is where Michigan's going, this is where the auto industry is going," Saari says.

Saari notes that about 18,000 people in Michigan own electric cars today, but experts say that could rise to about 150,000 within a decade. 

Both utilities will require individual customers who apply for a rebate to sign up for a "time of use" rate plan, that offers a lower rate for evening charging, and a higher rate for daytime charging.

Editor's note: DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are corporate sponsors of Michigan Radio.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.