White House news is a boost for electric vehicles

Michigan utilities get on board

An announcement at the White House in November is good news for the electric vehicle industry, which means good news for Michigan workers and Michigan's environment, according to Charles Griffith, climate and energy program director at the Ecology Center.

At the White House launch in November, more than 70 electric utility companies, including Michigan’s DTE and Consumers Energy, announced they will devote at least 5 percent of their annual fleet budgets to purchasing plug-in electric vehicles, for a total commitment of more than $50 million per year.

Dozens more businesses, government agencies, schools, and non-profits also committed to install workplace charging stations for their employees. Earlier this fall, DTE and MGM announced they would do that in a parking structure they share in downtown Detroit.

The Ecology Center was one of the founders of the Built By Michigan coalition, which "brings together small business, large business, workers, families, electric vehicle owners and car aficionados, environmental and faith based organizations to advance the manufacturing and sales of the electric vehicle in Michigan to strengthen our economy and put our workers back to work."

Click here for more information about Built by Michigan or to subscribe to the coalition's monthly newsletter.

podesta bucket truckAt the White House announcement, President Barack Obama's counselor John Podesta operated a plug-in hybrid bucket truck that generates nearly 80 percent fewer emissions than a conventional truck.

"The coolest part of the story is that not only does PG&E’s plug-in hybrid utility vehicle run cleaner, it provides up to 120 kW of exportable power, meaning that the trucks can actually be used to shorten or end power outages by plugging their reserves into the grid," Griffith said.

“This is the kind of innovation we need to take action on climate change — reducing emissions on the one hand and finding creative ways to boost community resilience on the other,” Podesta wrote in a blog post.

"And we’ve substantially increased the number of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles in the federal fleet, reducing carbon pollution and cutting fuel costs at the same time. Taking action on climate change means working at all levels of government and across all sectors of the economy to reduce emissions, develop more clean energy, boost efficiency, and build resilience in American communities.”

The White House announcement was the latest development in the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge launched by Obama in 2012 with the goal producing American-made plug-in electric vehicles that are as affordable for the average American family as gasoline-powered vehicles.

"In addition to the stimulus the utilities’ plan will give to the industry, the federal government is doing its part, too," Griffith said. "The Department of Energy announced that they would support aggregated purchases of EVs and other advanced-technology vehicles, maximizing customers’ buying power and increasing certainty for manufacturers."