Michigan plans 1st U.S. charging road for EVs and Lake Michigan circuit

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MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (WOOD/WOOD) — Electric vehicle drivers could soon charge on the go on a first in the nation charging road and travel along Lake Michigan with strategically installed charges.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday that plans are underway to build a one-mile stretch of state roadway in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb counties to allow public transportation and private vehicles to charge while traveling as a part of the Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot.

Michigan’s Department of Transportation plans to release a request for proposal on Sept. 28 to evaluate and implement the stretch of road.

During a press conference on Mackinac Island Wednesday, Whitmer announced plans for a Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit, which would provide EV charging infrastructure to facilitate road trips along the lakeshore.

“We’re building out our charging infrastructure and we’re going to serve as the best new road trip for electric vehicle owners in America, charting a route around West Michigan with reliable charging options,” Whitmer said. “So the circuit is going to entice residents and travelers to explore our incredible coastal communities and amenities while using clean energy, cutting pollution and helping to protect our air and water.”

Charging sites in the circuit will include either DC fast charging or level 2 chargers. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy will offer grants to install charging infrastructure through its Charge Up MI program. It has $1.25 million in initial funding available.

A timeline for beginning construction has not yet been developed.

Another major component of her plan is the Michigan Revolution for Electrification of Vehicles Academy/Academies, which Whimer said will “equip our workforce with a specific knowledge and skill  demands of the emerging mobility and electrification industry.”

“This collaborative effort will provide important input and resources to shape current and future education and training offerings across Michigan. It will facilitate recruitment, pre- and post-hire education and training in technologies that support automotive, mobility and electrification industry,” Whitmer said. “It’ll also help us pursue our ’60 by ’30’ goal of having 60% of our workforce in a post-secondary education or skills training by 2030.”

The state is looking for a group to lead those training efforts; it started seeking proposals from interested groups beginning Wednesday.

Whitmer and others rolling out the initiatives say they could help Michigan take the lead in electric vehicle production and utilization.  

The governor was on Mackinac Island for the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce Mackinac Policy Conference, which has drawn politicians and stakeholders to discuss issues affecting the state and its future.

Speaking with News 8 at the conference Tuesday, Consumers Energy CEO Garrick Rochow said his company is working to install more charging stations for electric vehicles.

“We play a big role. We’ve put out 1,000 charges here over the last few years,” Rochow said. “We’re in the process of installing 200 what are called DC fast chargers. They will charge a vehicle fully in one hour. In 20 minutes, you can get 80% of a charge.”

He said Michigan State University helped the company determine where those chargers should be placed.

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