A package of five bills related to electric vehicle charging stations was taken up by the House Energy Committee on Tuesday, June 8th, 2021. House Bills 4801 and 4802 would create a requirement for people operating electric vehicle charging stations to register with the state and set in law that electric vehicle charging stations are not classified as a public utility and thus could financially charge consumers by the unit of electricity consumed. House Bills 4803, 4804, and 4805 would create the legal framework to allow electric vehicle charging at rest areas in Michigan. Currently, federal and Michigan law prohibits commercial entities from highway rest areas.
Update as of June 22, 2021: House Bills 4801 and 4802 passed the House Energy Committee. Next, the House of Representatives will vote on the bills, likely after the summer recess ends in September.
Clean Fuels Michigan Executive Director Jane McCurry testified before the committee to show support for the advancement of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Her full testimony is below:
Testimony before the House Energy Committee: House Bills 4801, 4802, 4803, 4804, 4805
Chair Bellino and committee members, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. My name is Jane McCurry, and I am the Executive Director of Clean Fuels Michigan.
Clean Fuels Michigan is a nonprofit trade organization advancing the future of clean transportation in Michigan. We advocate for policies and programs that support the transition to cleaner and zero-emission fuels.
We appreciate the leadership of Representatives Schroeder, Kuppa, Bellino, LaGrand, and Damoose, in addition to all the other bill sponsors and committee members. We are pleased to support smart and timely policies to prepare Michigan’s charging infrastructure to meet the needs of consumers and the electric vehicle industry.
Clean Fuels Michigan has particular interest in House Bills 4803, 4804, and 4805 related to rest area electric vehicle charging, so I will focus my testimony on those three bills, of which we are excitedly supportive.
Clean Fuels Michigan Supports House Bills 4803, 4804, 4805
Consumers and fleets have more options than ever before to purchase an electric vehicle that fits their needs. Every major auto manufacturer, including many with headquarters and facilities right here in Michigan, is pledging billions of dollars to develop, market, and manufacture compelling electric vehicles. However, electric vehicles made up only 0.82% of new light-duty vehicle sales in Michigan in 2020.
Electric vehicle drivers primarily recharge their vehicles at home, overnight. However, on longer trips that exceed the range of the vehicle, fast and convenient recharging infrastructure is needed. In fact, the lack of public charging infrastructure is an often-cited reason for consumers to choose not to drive an electric vehicle.
The buildout of fast and convenient electric vehicle charging stations is necessary to allow Michiganders and Michigan’s many visitors to get wherever they please in an electric vehicle with confidence. And equally as important, policies to promote electric vehicles and adequate charging infrastructure show that Michigan is serious about continuing to be the home of the automotive industry.
Automakers and other experts also tell us that the infrastructure deployment must begin now, while electric vehicle adoption is relatively low. In part, this is because many prospective buyers need to see chargers in action to give them the confidence to purchase an electric vehicle. But more simply: planning, permitting, and construction of electric vehicle chargers takes time, and chargers need to be installed and ready to meet the increased demand that we expect over the next few years.
House Bills 4803, 4804, and 4805 give Michigan another tool in the toolbelt of electric vehicle recharging. Rest areas and welcome centers are close to the highway and could offer electric vehicle drivers a convenient place to recharge, use the facilities, and continue on their way. We see no reason to leave creative and compelling options, like this one, behind.
Michigan should be a national leader in clean transportation.
House Bills 4803, 4804, and 4805 offer Michigan the opportunity to lead and be one of the first states to enact policies to allow electric vehicle charging at rest areas. Conversations about using the highway right of way for renewable energy and alternative fuel vehicle refueling are ongoing, and we are excited to see Michigan emerge as a leader in that conversation. We encourage the bill sponsors to continue to work with MDOT and FHWA to stay up to date on any federal guidance regarding electric vehicle charging and use of the highway rights of way.
We look forward to building on this conversation to support electric vehicle drivers and fleets in many more ways. Michigan has the know-how, the skills, and the stakeholders to make the next generation of transportation innovation our legacy – one that is cleaner, more equitable, and beneficial for all residents. We are excited to work with you on these bills and additional opportunities to advance Michigan’s clean transportation leadership.