Bellino hosts committee hearing on electric vehicles

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Legislator says charging system must be in place for widespread use


State Rep. Joe Bellino today was joined at the House Energy Policy Committee by experts in electric vehicles and utilities to open discussion on the future of electric vehicles in Michigan.

Bellino, of Monroe, said the demand for electric vehicles (EV) will climb as the cost of batteries continues to drop, and stakeholders in the industry must coordinate efforts to remove barriers that EV owners currently face. Discussion also touched on self-driving vehicles, which will mostly be powered by electricity.

“We took the first step in what will be a very in-depth discussion about the future of electric vehicles and the challenges more electric cars and trucks will put on the energy grid,” said Bellino, who serves on the committee. “Today’s testimony basically scratched the surface of a larger discussion that will occur about EVs as the technology advances and the number of EVs increases on Michigan roads.”

Bellino serves the city of Flat Rock, where Ford is building a facility to produce self-driving commercial fleet vehicles, most of which will be powered by electricity. The Ford project is expected to create more than 700 jobs and represent nearly a $1 billion investment in the city.

Today’s testimony centered on the need for charging stations and other equipment statewide to keep the vehicles on the road, and the impact EVs will have on the electric grid. The committee heard from the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, the Michigan Public Service Commission, Ford Motor Co., and DTE and Consumers Energy.

Discussion focused on the growth of EV ownership, which is currently nearly 15,000 vehicles in Michigan. Projections are ownership will grow to as many as 700,000 electric vehicles on Michigan roads by 2030. That presents a possible drain on the electric grid if many drivers charge their vehicles at the same time, such as in the period after work.

“We discussed smart charging, where people can program their charging to take place overnight or during the workday, when rates are lower and the demand on electricity is down,” Bellino said. “We also discussed the need for a network of charging stations throughout the state and who would own the stations and how payment would be achieved.”

The Energy Policy Committee will continue hearings on the issue.