The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) recently approved DTE Electric Co.'s application to begin the second phase of its Charging Forward electric vehicle (EV) pilot program. The approval permits DTE Electric to spend up to US$10.3 million on operation and maintenance costs for the program's second phase from 2021 to 2025. The costs will be reviewed for reasonableness in the company's next general rate case.
DTE launched Charging Forward in May 2019. It was one of three utility EV pilot programs the MPSC approved to encourage and facilitate EV adoption and test technology innovations, rate designs, customer response, and other factors involved. Data from these pilot programs will help utilities and the MPSC make more informed decisions on how to address challenges and value the potential benefits associated with increased electric load from residential and commercial customer-owned EVs.
The fleet portion of the first phase of DTE's Charging Forward program is fully subscribed. The company created the second phase to prevent disruption to EV adoption and fleet electrification expansion. The second phase will establish an education and outreach plan — targeted to Michigan's commercial fleet operators — on the benefits of electrification, provide support for fleet operators looking to electrify their fleets, and fund service connection upgrades and credits toward customer-owned contribution in aid of construction as well as rebates for charging infrastructure.
The Commission directed DTE Electric to include reports on the second phase of the program in both quarterly updates and in an annual status report, and include the second phase in its annual Charging Forward technical conference.
The company was also directed to file a comprehensive pilot plan, including the objective criteria adopted through the MPSC's MI Power Grid initiative in February 2021 and described in the recent order, as part of the company's next general rate case. The pilot plan will allow for greater transparency in this phase and provide additional visibility into the company's efforts to implement the EV program at full scale.