EV Circle Tour? Michiganders should get ready to plan their electric vehicle road trips, according to Trevor Pawl, Michigan’s chief mobility officer. At the Mackinac Policy Conference on Wednesday Gov. Gretchen Whitmer unveiled plans to build a “Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit”, with charging stations dotting the shoreline from quaint beach towns to lighthouses by next year. The project is designed to ease “range anxiety” -- the fear of electric car owners to travel far in the absence of reliable charging infrastructure, as well as attract tourism. It’s also designed to eliminate the “excuse” not to buy an EV because you can’t take it up north, according to Pawl. The news follows a Tuesday announcement in Pontiac that the state will build an “Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot” along a one-mile stretch of roadway somewhere in Metro Detroit, which would charge EVs wirelessly. Michigan is racing Indiana to be the first to construct such a roadway. The moves are part of Whitmer’s economic development plan which aims to build up the state’s electric vehicle economy while addressing climate change. "Michigan put the world on wheels. Now we are making those wheels more sustainable, less polluting, and part of the push to decarbonize Michigan's economy by 2050 through the state's Mi Healthy Climate Plan," Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) said in a statement. On Sept. 15, Whitmer announced the first in a round of grants designed to support electric vehicle technology innovation. Europe and China far surpass the U.S. in EV adoption. California, Texas, Washington and Florida lead the U.S. in EV adoption. (Detroit Free Press, Pew Research, MLive, U.S. Department of Energy)
State wants out of Enbridge mediation: A federal judge formally acknowledged that the mediation between Whitmer and Enbridge in the State of Michigan v Enbridge has broken down, though parties are still obligated to continue good-faith negotiations. The case was filed by the State of Michigan against Enbridge in Nov. 2020 following Enbridge’s refusal to cease operations in the state of Mackinac. It seeks to force Enbridge to halt the operation of the Line 5 gas pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac. Judge Janet Neff dismissed the state’s Sept. 15 motion asking the court to treat the mediation process as “completed without a settlement” as moot. The motion sought to prevent appointed mediator Judge Gerald E. Rosen from issuing new filings to continue the process, following the conclusion of a Sept. 9 meeting that concluded without a settlement. Enbridge opposed the motion, indicating its willingness to continue. “Given the apparent breakdown in the [mediation] process, the Court discerns no need for receipt of recommendations about its continuation,” Neff wrote. (Michigan Advance, court filings)
Health and EJ in utility plans: The Michigan Public Service Commission accepted and adopted the recommendations of a staff report last week outlining next steps towards an update of the integrated resource plan (IRP) filing requirements for Michigan’s regulated utilities in Case No. U-20633. The report includes requirements for regulated utilities to incorporate public health and environmental justice considerations into the modeling runs which underpin their IRPs and include Health Impact assessments in their filings. The filing comes after comments filed in the case by activists detailing the disproportionate health impact of DTE Energy operations in low-income communities of color. Regulated utilities are required to file IRPs to the MPSC every five years under legislation passed in 2016 by the GOP Michigan Legislature under Republican Governor Rick Snyder. The IRPs must present in-depth details about how utilities will meet the state’s energy requirements. Democrats at the time wanted clean energy standards in lieu of the IRP legislation. A 30-day public comment process of the new parameters will commence no later than Dec. 22, 2021, with the final draft of the Michigan Integrated Resource Planning Parameters to BE issued on June 30, 2022. The MPSC is requesting input on data collection methods to understand and address customer affordability and access and environmental justice issues in rate case filings in Case No. U-18238. (MPSC filings, Planet Detroit, Midwest Energy News)
Electric A2: The City of Ann Arbor is hoping to convince residents to dispense with gas-powered furnaces in favor of electric ones, part of the city’s goal for carbon neutrality. The city is promoting residential heat pumps, which rely on electricity. “A2Zero is Ann Arbor’s commitment to becoming carbon-neutral in a just and equitable way by 2030 and we can’t get there without talking about electrification,” Julie Roth, a senior energy analyst with the sustainability office, told MLive. “We have a big problem in our buildings and that is that we are burning fossil fuels in them for heat.” Heat pumps operate like refrigerators, pulling what out of the air. Pumps draw external heat from the outside and use it to heat the home. “It’s an air conditioner in reverse,” said Mitsubishi Electric Manager Mike Schaefer. (MLive)
Complaint Dep’t: Many are displeased with the state’s electric utilities and the frequent outages of the past summer. "We are allowing them to drive drunk into Armageddon. We need to immediately take the keys away from them," said Greg Woodring, an organizer for Ann Arbor for Public Power, referring to DTE Energy. The comments were made at a public listening session hosted by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel at the Novi Civic Center. Nessel praised DTE Energy’s plans to put $70 million into tree-trimming but said more money should directly help those impacted by outages. Republican State Senator Jim Runestad said he would work to pass laws to ban campaign donations from utilities and dismantle power company monopolies. (Detroit News)
Water future: Ann Arbor is reconsidering the future of its water supply, which mostly comes from the Huron River and a well on the city’s southside. PFAS in the river and a spreading dioxane plume threaten these sources. The city is considering getting its water from the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) or refurbishing its water treatment plant. But either plan could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. And joining GLWA could compromise the city’s sustainability goals because of the energy needed to transport water 50 miles from the Detroit River to Ann Arbor. Brian Steglitz, manager of water treatment services for the city, said joining a regional authority could pose other challenges. "If you join a regional water supply, you're giving up a lot of autonomy in decision-making," he said. "Ann Arbor has prided itself on doing more than what the regulations require.” (Michigan Radio)
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