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Multi-State Partnership to Bring EV Circuit to Lake Michigan

In a partnership with Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, Michigan will create an electric vehicle circuit around Lake Michigan. The roughly $4 million project aims to help ease EV owners’ “range anxiety.”

Electric vehicle charging
(TNS) — Looking to the future, the state of Michigan — in a partnership with Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana — has plans to create an electric vehicle (EV) circuit around Lake Michigan.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made the announcement back in September during the Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island.

Grand Haven City Manager Patrick McGinnis said the community would be interested in participating.

“We’ll need to coordinate with City Council, the MSDDA ( Main Street Downtown Development Authority) and the (city’s) parks board to nail down exactly what should go where, but Grand Haven is an essential part of anyone’s visit to the Great Lakes,” McGinnis said. “So, we will make sure we can charge our visitors’ (electric vehicles) conveniently and efficiently.”

The benefit of the EV circuit, according to Jeff Cranson, director of communications for the Michigan Department of Transportation, is to help eliminate what he calls “range anxiety,” and will make charging up easier for vehicle owners. In addition, he said it is “future proofing” for Michigan’s tourism industry.

“We also benefit from being one of the first states to develop the physical infrastructure to market for ecotourists, potentially gaining Michigan a larger share of that tourism market sub sector,” Cranson said. “Michigan will have the nation’s first electric Route 66. ... In time, the Lake Michigan circuit can become an iconic road trip that draws Americans and international travelers.”

Cranson said there will also be a number of environmental benefits to the EV circuit.

“There are dozens of environmental benefits from reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from the transportation sector — a major emitter,” he explained. “There will be less direct vehicle-to-environment contamination. Since EVs don’t have gears and controlled explosions, there’s no exposure to leaks of gasoline, diesel, oil, etc., which sometimes make their way to roads and tributaries.

“Specific to the Lake Michigan circuit, a big environmental benefit is for lake-adjacent communities, which have consistently been on the state’s air quality non-attainment standards list,” Cranson continued. “So, encouraging greater EV use and adoption in these communities in particular will reduce GHGs in some of the exact places that need it the most.”

This Lake Michigan EV circuit is expected to include a mixture of fast direct-current fast chargers (DCFC) and level 2 charging stations. The faster DC charging stations can charge a vehicle in 20-30 minutes, and the level 2 stations take between three and eight hours.

The initial cost for the infrastructure of the project is expected to be between $3.5 million and $4 million. Cranson said $1.25 million has been secured already and is expected to be used to incentivize “private and public site development infrastructure.”

“Long-term costs will depend on a lot of variables, like the type of chargers, the cost-sharing arrangements with site hosts, the incentives from the utilities, the site capabilities (does it need make-ready infrastructure, on-site energy storage, on-site generation, etc.?), and the local market demand for chargers (in other words, the total number of chargers that will be required),” Cranson noted.

The cost to install a DCFC charger is around $84,000. Level 2 chargers cost about $6,000 each.

Cranson said the vision for the project is to have the state provide grants that cover up to 33 percent of a municipality’s costs to install the EV infrastructure.

“The remainder will be covered by a partnership between site hosts, their utility and their charger operator (if applicable),” he said. “Ongoing charger maintenance and operating costs will not be the responsibility of the state. The state will not seek or require revenue-sharing agreements with site host and charging operators.”

There are a lot of moving parts that go into a project like this, but Cranson says he believes that with additional money a part of the EV circuit could be operational later this year.

©2022 the Grand Haven Tribune, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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