Opinion: Pave the way for clean transportation

Mike Alaimo

Michigan’s auto industry helped build our state and continues to be one of its  top job producers. Now, we’re seeing automakers hit the gas on high-tech improvements for the next generation of clean and electric vehicles.

A battery-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV makes its way down the assembly line at General Motors' Lake Orion Assembly assembly plant.

That’s why during National Drive Electric Week, it’s important for residents and lawmakers to reflect on how we can continue to support the clean transportation industry in Michigan.

An analysis by Clean Fuels Michigan found the clean mobility sector contributes $18.8 billion to Michigan’s economy, as well as $700 million in state and local taxes. In addition to leading the design, engineering and manufacturing of electric vehicles, Michigan should also be paving the way for clean transportation infrastructure and vehicle use. A bipartisan package of bills recently introduced by Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, in the Michigan Legislature would ensure state decision makers put a more focused effort toward clean transportation infrastructure.

While consumer purchases of electric vehicles grow, charging stations are few and far between, says Alaimo.

While consumer purchases of electric vehicles are growing, the availability of vehicle-charging stations in communities across the state continues to lag. This bipartisan legislation would allow the Michigan Department of Transportation to look at the more than 100 state parks and 250 carpool lots as potential locations for electric vehicle charging locations.

Additionally, the legislation would give small businesses and multi-unit housing entities tax credits to install even more electric vehicle charging stations across the state. The bills await committee action in the Michigan House and Senate (HB 4786, HB 4787, HB 4788, HB 4789 and SB 406, SB 407, SB 408, SB 409).

It’s crucial for us to build a stronger network of charging stations in order to support the electric vehicles rolling off Michigan’s assembly lines and out of dealership lots across the state. The legislation anticipates the need for future improvements by creating the Electric Vehicle Council within the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), which would bring together representatives from transportation, economic development, energy, environment and other related fields with private companies and utilities.

Electric vehicles support Michigan jobs, save drivers money and help reduce pollution in our air and water, creating a healthier state for everyone to enjoy. With Michigan’s first electric school buses transporting children this year in Ann Arbor, Gaylord, Kalamazoo, Oxford, Roseville, Three Rivers and Zeeland, it’s clear there is a growing interest and need for the auto capital of the world to have a plan for the future of transportation infrastructure.

During National Drive Electric Week I encourage Michiganians to check out electric vehicles, and urge their legislators to support these bills that will shift the future of electric transportation infrastructure into high gear.

Mike Alaimo is the executive director of Clean Fuels Michigan.