Published in Energy

Hope College, Ottawa Co. partnering on EV charging needs assessment

BY Thursday, September 29, 2022 01:53pm

Hope College is partnering with local officials to determine Ottawa County’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure needs in the coming years as automakers and utilities forecast increased vehicle adoption.

College and Ottawa County officials today announced the countywide assessment, which will analyze suitable charger locations, charging ownership structures, and overall infrastructure needs, limitations and best practices. Officials say a key aspect of the project will determine whether charging infrastructure should be supported through public tax dollars, private investments, or a combination of the two.

“The manner by which we’ll travel by vehicle is changing,” Paul Sachs, director of Ottawa County’s Department of Strategic Impact, said in a statement. “To prepare for an all-electric vehicle future, we need to understand our current infrastructure landscape and the anticipated needs of residents.”

Jackson-based utility Consumers Energy is underwriting the program through Hope College’s Center for Leadership Consulting Program, which gives students opportunities to research and solve problems for businesses, nonprofits and governmental organizations.

Bob Bieri, senior vice president and general manager for Grand Rapids-based automotive supplier Lacks Enterprises Inc., will serve as a mentor for the four Hope College students.

Bieri called the program “an amazing opportunity to wrestle with how fast the EV automotive market will change in Ottawa County. Envisioning and preparing for the needs and desires of consumers who have yet to participate in the EV market is an awesome challenge and it will require unique collaboration. We are truly grateful for this partnership.”

The Ottawa County assessment comes as EV adoption steadily grows and the federal government deploys hundreds of millions of dollars for charging networks along key highway corridors. Michigan electric vehicle registrations climbed nearly 60 percent in 2021 and state officials forecast as many as 60,000 plug-in electric vehicles to be on Michigan roads by 2024, as MiBiz previously reported

Consumers Energy anticipates 1 million electric vehicles in its Lower Peninsula service territory by 2030. The utility so far has powered nearly 2,500 electric chargers in homes, commercial properties and publicly available spaces. 

Meanwhile, the Biden administration this week approved charging infrastructure plans for all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, releasing $1.5 billion to spur charging stations along designated highway corridors. Michigan will receive nearly $16.3 million this fiscal year and more than $24.4 million the next fiscal year for its charging network, which includes multiple highway corridors through West Michigan.

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