As auto manufacturers expand the number of plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles, Michigan wants to be ready with charging stations that help answer the question of, “Where do I charge my car?” That’s why energy companies such as DTE and CMS Energy are preparing to meet customers’ needs with rebate programs to encourage charger installation.
DTE has embarked on a three-year, $13 million pilot program called "Charging Forward" to provide approximately 2,800 residential rebates for home chargers ($500 each rebate), deploy 32 DC fast chargers, install 1,000 Level 2 charging ports and of course educate consumers about the charger rebate program. DC fast chargers and Level 2 chargers will have rebates of up to $20,000 and $2,500 respectively.
Level 2 public chargers can charge a vehicle that has a low battery in about six hours while a DCFC fast charger can bring a vehicle to full charge in less than an hour.
“We have several requests from private customers about charger programs,” says Camilo Serna, vice president of Corporate Strategy for DTE Energy. “So, we’re definitely seeing an increase in market demand.”
Many of the chargers will have a smart capability that allows them to communicate with the electrical grid. This enables DTE to learn what the demands of the grid are at certain times of the day and if customers are taking advantage of lower rates for overnight charging.”
While DTE covers most of Southeast Michigan, Consumers Energy and CMS Energy based in Jackson, Mich., handles most of the remaining lower peninsula and offers the PowerMiDrive program.
“The PowerMiDrive program has already awarded 50 of the Level 2 charger rebates and expects to have 200 out by the end of the year,” said Jeff Myrom, drector of Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicle Customer Products for CMS Energy. “We are approved for 3,000 rebates over the life of the program.”
Part of the expansion of the charging infrastructure includes having chargers where customers with electrified vehicles reside and travel.
“We’re getting guidance from the state on where to put the faster chargers,” said Myrom. ”The DCFC chargers need to be in places where people will stop and spend some time such as a parking lot for retail stores or in a downtown area.”
Research through vehicle registrations has shown that Michigan has its own markets where the demand for plug-ins and pure electrics have increased.
“There’s a band that runs from Grand Rapids to Lansing, over to Ann Arbor and then Kalamazoo. There’s another pocket near Traverse City,” Myrom continued. “But we also know that there aren’t a lot of chargers in those areas.” Urban areas include Genesee County, Flint, Saginaw, and Battle Creek.”
To reduce the load on the overall grid, electric use rates are further incentivized to encourage use during off-peak hours.
“We know that most EV owners do most of their charging at home, so we have a time-of-use rate that offers a significant discount,” said Myrom. “The rate for overnight charging is much less than what it normally is during the day because it’s less of a draw on the grid, so encouraging the use of existing infrastructure in a smarter way can reduce the further cost to keep the grid running properly.”