With automakers ramping up development and production of electric vehicles (EVs), Michigan has the opportunity to be a leader in the transition to a cleaner transportation system. As chief executive officer and co-owner of Crystal Mountain — a family-owned ski, golf and spa resort in Benzie County — and a long-time EV owner, I see the widespread adoption of EVs in our state as a way to improve public health while generating significant savings.
Clean air and a clean environment are vital to our company’s success. That’s why we are committed to sustainable business practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Crystal Mountain was among the first businesses in northern Michigan to install public EV charging stations, and we now have five stations to support employee and customer EV charging. Our charging stations, along with the entire resort, use 56 percent zero-carbon electricity supplied by Cherryland Electric Cooperative. They also have a real impact on our bottom line, attracting new guests who need access to charging and seek out destinations with EV charging capabilities.
The expansion of EVs benefits all Michiganders. A recent cost-benefit analysis found that EVs can save both drivers and ratepayers money. By 2050, Michigan EV owners can expect to save about $23.1 billion on fuel and maintenance costs. All Michigan ratepayers can expect to save up to $2.6 billion on their electricity bills, and to reap the equivalent of $5.7 billion in benefits associated with reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Another report by Ceres and M.J. Bradley & Associates found that these benefits outweigh the cost of EV charging infrastructure investment by more than three to one.
To tap into these benefits, Michigan needs to have the right structures in place. This includes regulations and policies that enable equitable deployment of EV infrastructure. With well-designed incentive programs and accountability mechanisms, EVs can generate long-term savings for businesses and ratepayers and improve health outcomes for all Michiganders.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Michigan’s electricity rates are already the highest in the Midwest. That’s why Michigan lawmakers and the Public Service Commission need to ensure cost savings from EVs are reflected in electricity rates, and that ratepayers are not unfairly burdened with even higher electricity rates as a result of EV investments. Using off-peak charging capabilities, EVs can smooth out electricity demand and better utilize our power supply infrastructure. This allows utilities to spread fixed infrastructure costs among a larger number of users, helping to lower electricity rates for individuals.
In addition, because Michigan utilities are well positioned to benefit from investing in and incentivizing EVs and their charging infrastructure, efforts to accelerate EV deployment must be balanced with clear assurances that system-wide benefits translate into ratepayer savings. Automakers can also help by investing in EV charging infrastructure, and making EV purchases more attractive to businesses and their employees through fleet incentives.
Michigan lawmakers and the Public Service Commission should develop policies and incentives that allow all Michiganders to fully realize the financial savings and health benefits of EVs.
About the author: Jim MacInnes is chief executive officer at Crystal Mountain, chair of the Michigan Utility Consumer Participation Board and a licensed professional engineer. The views expressed here are his own.
About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing email@example.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.