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Consumers Energy says it will ramp up public EV charging in Michigan

Myesha Johnson
The Detroit News

Consumers Energy plans to add 1,500 electric vehicle public charging spaces by the end of 2030 in an effort to support clean transportation in Michigan, the utility said Monday.

The energy company said in a release that this plan is a huge expansion in public charging that "highlights still-strong EV growth" and is part of that it is filing with state regulators.

“Despite some of the naysayers in the news lately, the trends in EV growth are unmistakable. EV numbers in Michigan have tripled since the end of 2020, and we’re seeing strong signs growth will continue,” Lauren Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president of customer experience, said in the release.

To support that growth, Snyder said in the release, Consumers Energy will start offering rebates next year for the next generation of fast chargers powered by on-site batteries. Those will allow chargers to be installed quicker and draw power from the electric grid overnight, which is the lowest-cost time, to charge vehicles.

According to the release, Consumers Energy has provided over 135 rebates for locations for public fast chargers that can fully power an EV’s battery in under 30 minutes. The energy provider expects the 1,500 charging spaces to have four or more fast chargers to aid drivers who travel long distances across Michigan for work or pleasure.

The rebates include $7,500 for property owners who invest in overnight charging for their tenants and the same amount for 25 Michigan municipalities that install a charger in public parking lots or curbside locations, with a focus on places within one block of multifamily properties.

“We know electric vehicles are good for the planet and they’re a good experience for drivers,” Snyder said in the release. “We also know we’re taking the right steps to speed up Michigan’s EV transformation in a way that helps the grid and lowers costs for everyone. Whether you drive an EV or not, you come out ahead.”

DTE Energy filed its with the Michigan Public Service Commission earlier this year to support the state’s MI Healthy Climate Plan and MI Future Mobility Plan. The company plans to increase affordability for the installation of EV chargers as well as increase accessibility for Michigan businesses and families — in some cases fully covering the cost of installing an EV charger.

Jill Wilmot, a DTE spokesperson, said in an email to The Detroit News that the company has installed over 7,600 EV chargers. Of those, she said 69 are direct current fast charging units, with about 30 more planned before the end of 2024.

DTE proposed using $145 million for EV educational programs and EV charger rebates to enhance Michigan’s EV charging infrastructure. The $145 million proposal will fund about 19,300 chargers from 2025 through 2028, with 1,040 of those being DCFCs for public, transit and schools.

The Consumers Energy initiative comes during a slow rollout of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program. The vast majority of publicly available chargers across the country — critical to building consumer confidence in EVs — have come from private sector deployments almost three years after Congress allocated $5 billion for the program meant to boost electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the United States. The funds have yielded just 11 power stations across seven states. None are in Michigan.

NEVI was part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021. It offered an infusion of $5 billion to states to build out their charger networks as electric vehicles become more common, with Michigan getting $110 million through fiscal year 2026.

There are 1,495 public EV chargers in Michigan as of the summer of 2024. By contrast, there were 4,749 retail gas stations as of the agency’s last count in 2012.

And there are still gaps in remote areas like the Upper Peninsula which is a problem for those wanting to take their EV on a road trip around the state. In all, Michigan aims to have enough infrastructure for 2 million EVs on the roads by 2030.

Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest energy provider, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.8 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties. Consumers Energy’s Clean Energy Plan calls for eliminating coal as an energy source by 2025, achieving net-zero carbon emissions and meeting 90% of customers’ energy needs through clean sources, including wind and solar.

mjohnson@detroitnews.com

@_myeshajohnson