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Michigan launches pilot projects to prepare rural and low income communities for electric vehicle revolution

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Michigan is preparing its infrastructure for an EV revolution

Michigan has announced six grant recipients for pilot projects to help expand electric vehicle infrastructure, focusing on rural and lower income urban areas in particular.

One project will set up two Level 2 chargers and two EV fast chargers in lower income communities. Volta and DTE Energy will partner to decide which neighborhoods should get the stations.

Trevor Pawl is Michigan's Chief Mobility Officer.

"To see how an electric vehicle solution can work is a big deal," said Pawl. "Everyone needs to see that. No one can be left behind by the electric vehicle revolution."

Another project will set up a battery energy storage system in Port Austin. That could help protect the grid during times of greater demand for EV charging.

"Especially in tourism clusters along the Great Lakes, we're gonna see surges during peak season," said Pawl.

Other projects include:

  • Fleet Lab is working with rural school districts to deploy an electric transit system that will help address extreme driver shortages, eliminate hazardous bus stops, and slash student travel times, which can be up to four hours per school day. 
  • Chargeway will work with car dealerships to help improve the customer experience and simplify and accelerate EV sales. The launch of a new software platform will serve as a training and sales tool for dealerships and an educational tool for car shoppers.
  • MoGo will build an electric charging bike share station with a solar panel roof in a lower income neighborhood of Detroit. Solar energy will enable the company to drastically reduce its carbon footprint – not only for e-bike charging, but for bike maintenance team pickups and returns. 
  • ElectricFish will deploy its microgrid-integrated DC Fast Charging system at a public site where DC Fast Charging would otherwise be challenging due to grid constraintsThe solution will charge EVs as well as provide backup energy to a local grid feeder to boost the site’s resiliency.

Pawl said this is just the first in a series of grants to fund creative solutions to make sure all places in Michigan are ready to plug in to the EV future.

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.