State Approves DTE Energy’s Plan to Support Fleet Electrification

The Michigan Public Service Commission approved DTE Electric Co.’s application to begin the second phase of its Charging Forward electric vehicle pilot program, allowing the Detroit-based power provider to spend up to $10.3 million on operation and maintenance costs of the program, which centers on fleet electrification.
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electric vehicle charging
The Michigan Public Service Commission approved DTE Electric Co.’s application to begin the second phase of its Charging Forward electric vehicle pilot program. // Stock photo

The Michigan Public Service Commission approved DTE Electric Co.’s application to begin the second phase of its Charging Forward electric vehicle pilot program, allowing the Detroit-based power provider to spend up to $10.3 million on operation and maintenance costs of the program, which centers on fleet electrification.

The second phase will take place through 2025, and DTE Electric, part of DTE Energy, launched Charging Forward in May 2019. It was one of three utility vehicle pilot programs the commission approved to encourage and facilitate electric vehicle adoption and test technology innovations, rate designs, gauge customer response, and analyze other factors involved.

Data from the programs will help utilities and the commission make decisions on how to address challenges and value the benefits associated with increased electric load from residential and commercial customer-owned electric vehicles.

The second phase of DTE’s plan is designed to prevent disruption from electric vehicle adoption and fleet electrification expansion. It 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 to include reports on the second phase of the program in quarterly updates and an annual status report and to file a comprehensive pilot plan, allowing for transparency at this phase and visibility into the company’s efforts to implement the program at full scale.

In related news, the commission approved a build-transfer agreement between Jackson-based Consumers Energy Co. and Heartland Farms Wind Project for the construction of a 200-megawatt wind farm in Gratiot County. 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 percent.

The projected levelized cost of energy for Heartland Farms is $56 per megawatt hour, provided the project is completed on time to receive the tax credit. The cost is lower than the projected $58.37 levelized cost on Consumers’ renewable energy plan.

The commission also approved a deadline extension for Indiana Michigan Power Co. to file its Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 avoided cost review and to integrate the avoided cost review into its upcoming integrated resource plan filing. The approval extends the April 5 deadline to Dec. 15, a move Indiana Michigan argued would allow for a more robust filing in its upcoming integrated resource plan that will address the avoided costs and capacity requirements more comprehensively while avoiding duplicative efforts.

Finally, the commission is seeking comment from stakeholders as part of a review of 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. In July 2017, the commission approved amended Rate Case Standard Filing Requirements for electric, natural gas, and steam utilities.

The commission is now revisiting 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. It will review comments and determine whether to revise filing requirements.

Comments are due at 5 p.m. on May 14 and should reference Case No. U-18238. People can submit by mail to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909 or by emailing mpscedockets@michigan.gov.

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