News Story

Consumers Energy touts electric vehicle progress, but plan is questionable

Ambitious plan to go carbon neutral is unrealistic

Consumers Energy has provided over 2,000 incentives for electric vehicle charging in less than three years, according to a July 18 press release.

The incentives include rebates and rewards offered through the PowerMIDrive program. Customers can get a $500 rebate for installing a residential charger. Apartments can receive up to $7,000 in rebates, and businesses can receive up to $70,000 for installing chargers for their clients to use.

Consumers Energy plans to power another 200 chargers in the next two years, and has set a goal to power one million electric vehicles in Michigan by 2030.

The company’s Clean Energy Plan promises that electric vehicles will be powered by an entirely carbon-neutral grid by 2040.

“They claim that they will be able to be powered by an entirely carbon neutral grid, but we are not convinced that their modeling is accurate,” said Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “They are planning to power 90% of their customer’s electricity demand with renewable energy, which is primarily wind and solar, and a small amount of battery back-up. By 2040 they will only, according to their plans, provide 10% of their net capacity with natural gas.”

To make this transition to renewable energy sources, Consumers Energy uses efficiency programs, which tell customers to use less energy during periods of high demand, such as on extremely hot or cold days.

Charging vehicles during off-peak hours lessens the demand placed on the grid, according to the press release. The Bring Your Own Charger Program provides a $10 monthly reward to drivers who charge their vehicles between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on week-days.

“That’s exactly the time that solar produces nothing. So the majority of their electric capacity is supposed to be online and working during the day when solar is producing electricity, yet they want people ramping up electricity demand in terms of having over a million electric vehicles by 2030. They want those million electric vehicles charging during the evening when solar is producing nothing,” Hayes said.

Consumers Energy plans to be one of the first utilities to go coal-free by 2025, the year the company has set to close all of their coal plant units. This is one of the nation’s fastest time-tables.

“I’d say it’s one of the most unrealistic time-tables,” Hayes said.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.