MPSC approves next phase of DTE Electric’s electric vehicle pilot program

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DETROIT, Mich. (WLNS) — The Michigan Public Service Commission today approved DTE Electric Co.’s application to begin the second phase of its Charging Forward electric vehicle pilot program.

Today’s order permits DTE Electric to spend up to $10.3 million on operation and maintenance costs for the program’s second phase in 2021-2025. 

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 electric vehicle (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 first phase of DTE’s Charging Forward program is fully subscribed, and 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 in Case No. U-20162, 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 in Case No. U-20645 and described in today’s order, as part of the company’s next general rate case.

The comprehensive 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. 

Read the MPSC’s issue brief on EV charging pilot programs. 

MPSC APPROVES CONSUMERS ENERGY CONTRACT FOR WIND PROJECT  

The MPSC today approved a build-transfer agreement between Consumers Energy Co. and Heartland Farms Wind Project, LLC for the construction of a 200-megawatt wind farm in Gratiot County (Case No. U-15805). Under the contract, the Heartland Farms wind project is to go into commercial operation by Dec. 31, 2022, to qualify for a federal Production Tax Credit of 60%. The projected levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for Heartland Farms is $56 per megawatt hour, provided the project is completed on time to receive the full 60% tax credit. The LCOE is lower than the projected $58.37 levelized cost in Consumers’ renewable energy plan (Case No. U-18231).   

MPSC GRANTS DEADLINE EXTENSION TO INDIANA MICHIGAN POWER CO.  

The MPSC today approved a deadline extension for Indiana Michigan Power Co. (I&M) to file its Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) avoided cost review and to integrate the avoided cost review into its upcoming integrated resource plan (IRP) filing (Case No. U-18092). The approval extends the April 5, 2021, deadline to Dec. 15, 2021, a move I&M argued would allow for a more robust filing in its upcoming IRP that will address the avoided costs and capacity requirements more comprehensively while avoiding duplicative efforts.  

MPSC SEEKS COMMENT ON RATE CASE FILING REQUIREMENTS 

The MPSC is seeking comment from stakeholders as part of a review of rate case filing requirements enacted after Michigan’s energy laws were updated in 2016, which included shortening the review period for rate cases from 12 months to 10 months (Case No. U-18238). The MPSC in July 2017 approved amended Rate Case Standard Filing Requirements for electric, natural gas, and steam utilities. The Commission now revisits the issue to examine what is and is not working under the requirements, soliciting comments on substantive forms and instructions governing the filings as well as procedural matters such as case timing, key milestones, preferred filing dates, calendar days, business days, and discovery turnaround time. The Commission will review comments and determine whether to revise filing requirements. Comments are due no later than 5 p.m. May 14, 2021, and should reference Case No. U-18238. Submit comments by mail to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909, or by e-mail to mpscedockets@michigan.gov.  

To look up cases from today’s meeting, access the MPSC’s E-Dockets filing system.    

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