State study identifies best spots for EV charging stations

LANSING – The ideal locations and the number of electric vehicle chargers along well-traveled Michigan highways were revealed today in a preliminary modeling analysis that is part of a study funded by the Michigan Energy Office.

“The uniqueness of this study will put Michigan on the map when it comes to locating a public network of charging stations,” said Anne Armstrong Cusack, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, which oversees the MEO.

Conducted by researchers at Michigan State University, the soon-to-be-released study is unique in its approach in determining the optimal location of EV chargers in public locations in the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Among other factors, the study looks at the feasibility of a road trip, the distance between charging stations, the charging speed, total time needed to get a charge, wait time for chargers, and detour times added to a trip.

The study looked at three scenarios for EV placement and investment. A low-tech model would have 598 charging outlets with an investment of roughly $28 million. The high-tech model calls for 128 charging outlets with an investment of just over $14 million. A mixed scenario, which anticipates a 70 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery, uses a 150 kilowatt (kW) charger and recognizes that vehicles with smaller batteries – or degraded batteries – will be on the road, estimates 193 charger outlets at an investment of about $21.5 million.

Results of the study will be used by the MEO as it makes available $9.9 million over the next three years to locate chargers across the state as part of the public network, said Robert Jackson, director of the MEO. The money comes from the 2016 Volkswagen diesel settlement. Additional resources for a public EV charger network are expected to be available from a variety of other stakeholders, including utilities. Private entities are also expected to invest in EV chargers.

While the preliminary findings of the first phase of the study released today examine the optimal locations of EV chargers for cross-state highway driving, the second phase of the study will focus on the placement of urban EV chargers.

The on-going study has included the input of stakeholders such as EV owners and drivers, utilities, auto companies, charging station operators, the Michigan Public Service Commission, the Michigan Departments of Transportation, Environmental Quality, and Natural Resources, as well as the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and others.

This year, the MEO initiated steps toward developing an effective DC fast-charging network ensuring worry-free EV travel through Michigan by 2030.

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