Multiple highway corridors through West Michigan would land high-speed electric vehicle charging stations in the coming years under a plan submitted last week for federal infrastructure funding.
State officials on Friday submitted a formal plan to deploy $110 million over the next five years for the fast-charging stations meant to mimic the experience of filling up for gas during long trips. The plan was required to receive the state’s share of the $5 billion program that’s part of last year’s federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. State officials expect U.S. Department of Transportation approval by the end of next month.
Another $2.5 billion will be available on a competitive basis in the coming years.
“We believe this plan sets the stage for an electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the state of Michigan,” Michigan Transportation Director Paul Ajegba said in a statement. “The plan’s vision is to develop a safe, equitable, reliable, convenient, and interconnected transportation electrification network that enables the efficient movement of people, improves quality of life, spurs economic growth, protects Michigan’s environment, and facilitates data collection.”
The plan sets forth a map for fast-charging electric vehicle stations along already designated “alternative fuel corridors” throughout the state. These include U.S. 31 from Mackinaw City to Holland, U.S. 131 from Petoskey to Kalamazoo and I-96 from Muskegon to Detroit.
Michigan’s plan envisions dozens of fast-chargers along these routes roughly every 50 miles and within 1 mile of the highway to accommodate forecasted growth in electric vehicle adoption.
The federal funding builds on several ongoing utility and state-led programs that started years ago to plan for a statewide charging network. The state’s existing Charge Up Michigan program — funded largely by Volkswagen settlement funds — will administer the federal funding.
As the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure formula-based program moves forward, the state will contract with both private and public entities to acquire, install and operate publicly accessible charging stations. As well, the state has worked with neighboring Midwest states on charger deployment along shared borders.
The state expects to issue contracts later this year with installations to begin in 2023.
However, the federally funded charging network is just a fraction of expected charging needs. State officials forecasted a 25-percent electric vehicle market share by 2030, which would require more than 2,100 fast-charging stations across Michigan to meet demand. The federal program would allow for 127, according to state estimates.
“Locations in Benton Harbor, Brighton, Muskegon, Newport, and Reed City need more than 130 additional chargers each within a five-mile radius of the recommended locations to meet the expected demand,” according to the state’s application.
Meanwhile, the West Michigan installations would build upon a lakeshore charging network announced earlier this year by the Whitmer administration in partnership with private-sector partners, which will be key players to fund charging infrastructure.
“Almost 4.5 million customers, or 92 percent of the state’s ratepayers, currently have access to electric utility EV pilot programs approved by the Commission,” Michigan Public Service Commissioner Tremaine Phillips said in a statement. “This plan, along with the approved utility EV programs, provide an excellent foundation for building the infrastructure necessary to support the next phase of vehicle electrification in Michigan.”