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Bills aim to make Michigan first “fully networked” state for electric vehicles

An electric car at a charging station
Wikimedia Commons
“I think it’s the equivalent of when we went from horses to cars. We’re now going from internal combustion engine cars to electric vehicles," State Senator Mallory McMorrow said.";s:3:

Purchasing an electric vehicle is one way to help reduce your carbon footprint. But given that charging stations are few and far between in Michigan, driving any significant distance in the state can be a challenge.

Democratic State Senator Mallory McMorrow represents Michigan’s 13th District. She’s introduced a package of bills that she hopes will address that problem, and in turn, encourage more Michiganders to purchase electric vehicles.

McMorrow, who drives an electric vehicle herself, says that it can be difficult to locate the public charging stations that she relies on to power her daily commute to Lansing. That firsthand struggle was in part what prompted her to introduce legislation to improve electric vehicle infrastructure in Michigan.  

“There are user-generated apps where you can find chargers, but often these are mismarked. They’re not in the places that they say they are, or they’re broken, or there’s a regular gas car parked in the spot and you can’t charge,” McMorrow said.

McMorrow’s proposed four-bill package — which is co-sponsored by two Republicans and two Democrats — would aim to make Michigan “the first fully-networked state in the country.” The bills would:

1. Create an Electric Vehicle Council that would work with “stakeholders, researchers, and utility companies” to evaluate statewide infrastructure and identify ideal locations for public charging stations.

2. Allow state parks to lease space for public charging stations. Revenue from those chargers would then go back into the state parks system. 

3. Allow state park and ride lots to lease space for public charging stations.

4. It can take between 30 minutes to several hours to charge an electric vehicle, so this bill would incentivize “small businesses and multi-family dwellings” to install electric vehicle chargers. McMorrow says doing so would also help drive customers to those businesses. 

The package’s first three bills, McMorrow says, are “revenue neutral” and would cost “nothing to taxpayers.” She says lawmakers are working with the state treasury department on the fourth bill to make sure it would “actually spur economic development” without costing the state “too much money."

Although electric vehicles still make up a small percentage of the total cars on the road in Michigan, McMorrow says that the cost of these vehicles is decreasing as the technology associated with them rapidly improves. But without a strong statewide network of charging stations, she says even those who can afford to purchase electric vehicles will be unlikely to do so. 

“There are companies all over who are developing this technology, and my fear is that we’re so comfortable in our core competency — we can make pickup trucks and SUVs better than anybody else in the world — but if we don’t adapt and evolve to where the rest of the industry is going, we’re going to get left behind,” McMorrow said.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Isabella Isaacs-Thomas.

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