Now is the Time for Michigan to Embrace Electrification

Summer may be ending, but things are just heating up for the electric vehicle market in Michigan. This August brought a lot of good news to the market. MJ Bradley & Associates released a reportwhich found that expanded EV adoption in the state could save both drivers and utility customers billions of dollars over the coming decades and that Michigan is ripe for expanded EV adoption in the near future. Additionally, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) held an event in Lansing where a wide range of stakeholders advocated for policies that would facilitate increased EV adoption in Michigan.

The MJ Bradley & Associates report, commissioned by Charge Up Midwest, used Midcontinent Independent System Operator and Bloomberg forecasts to analyze the costs and benefits of both “moderate” and “high” projections for EV adoption in the state. Brian Jones, senior vice president of MJ Bradley & Associates, believes the “high” projections are possible if utilities, regulators and the private sector work together on increasing EV adoption.

The report projects that utility customers could have their electricity bills reduced by $2.6 billion annually by 2050 with a high level of adoption, or $800 million with moderate adoption. Additionally, under the high adoption scenario drivers could save a whopping $23.1 billion by driving EVs instead of gasoline vehicles, and $6.3 billion with moderate adoption. Michigan citizens would also gain $1.5 to $5.7 billion in public benefits from reduced carbon pollution.

Again, those higher savings are only realized if the government, utilities, and the private sector can cooperate to enhance Michigan’s leadership in policies that help to promote EV adoption.

At the Michigan Technical Conference on Alternative Fuel Vehicles, stakeholders discussed how to do just that. Panelists identified the main obstacles to EV growth in the state, such as cost, lack of charging infrastructure, and low consumer awareness. Britta Gross, director of Advanced Commercialization Policy at General Motors, also spoke about the possibilities EVs present for ridesharing services and autonomous vehicle development. Because more affordable, long-range EV’s like the Chevy Bolt have now broken into the mainstream, panelists agreed that tackling Michigan’s infrastructure is the next step. Some proposed solutions included encouraging utilities to make strategic investments in the workplace and public charging infrastructure, and creating requirements for installing charging outlets in new homes and businesses as well. The MPSC now plans to summarize the conference findings and make recommendations on next steps.

In other Michigan news, this summer saw announcements from Ford about a first-of-its-kind EV, big news about a NAVYA autonomous shuttle plant coming to Saline, new electrification goals from Fiat Chrysler, and a growing disparity between the Trump administration's stance on fuel economy standards and the realities of Detroit automakers operating in a global economy.