In a signal that electric vehicles won't be just another flash in Michigan's pan, Ann Arbor's
Clean Energy Coalition
(CEC) has received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Clean Cities program for an electric vehicle planning initiative.
Over the next year, the CEC will work in concert with NextEnergy, the Michigan Plug-In Electric Vehicle Taskforce, the Greater Lansing Area Cities Coalition, and over 40 other stakeholders, including the automakers and nine of Michigan's largest cities, to develop a planning guide specifying the policies and infrastructure needed to support electric vehicle usage in Michigan.
Growing the market for these vehicles is beneficial, CEC Executive Director Sean Reed says, because "both from the standpoint of vehicle production and then also from the standpoint of electrical production ... we could really be supporting a lot of Michigan industry."
The planning guide will advise municipalities statewide on such questions as: "If they're going to be doing charging stations, where would be a good place to put them?"
Reed poses: "Is it a good idea to put them in municipal parking structures, or try to support them with dedicated fleet users?"
Electric vehicles are a growing market, but cities are only in the nascent stages of handling this transformation in a market that would make the ubiquitous gas station irrelevant. Plans for the underground parking structure at Ann Arbor's Library Lot call for 22 electric car charging stations, for instance, and the city of Saline installed one in its parking lot at 101 East Henry Street, but untold more will be needed.
Range, however, has been a limiting factor in electric vehicle adoption. For example, the EPA rates the range of the Nissan LEAF at 73 miles.
Says Reed, "Because of the auto manufacturers being based here there's probably more [electric] vehicles on the roads here than in some other parts of the country, but there's a lot that really needs to be done."
Sources: Sean Reed, executive director, Clean Energy Coalition; Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority; Nissan USA
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar