Biden administration provides funding to upgrade electric vehicle charging stations

Close-up of an electric car charging station with a car plugged in. (Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Jan. 18 that Michigan will receive funds to upgrade electric vehicle charging ports as part of the Biden administration’s plans for a more reliable national network of charging stations.

The grants, which are being sent to 20 states, will be used to repair or replace an estimated 4,500 ports. The department said it planned to have at least 500,000 chargers available to drivers across the country by the end of the decade.

“These grants bring us another step closer to a national EV charging network that keeps up with the EV transition that’s well underway,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

In Michigan, grants are being directed to the Michigan Department of Transportation for 170 charging ports and to Imlay City for two additional ports.

Funding for the project will come from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in 2021. The legislation was supported by Michigan’s Democratic representatives and Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, but was unanimously opposed by the state’s Republican members of Congress.

In a December 2022 statement, Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI) characterized the infrastructure law as part of a “reckless two-year spending spree” by the Biden administration.

Sen. Peters, who attended the White House ceremony celebrating the signing of the bill,  praised the aid the $1.9 trillion package would send to Michigan.

“This bipartisan infrastructure bill will bolster our economy as we improve the way Michiganders move, live and work for generations,” Peters said in a November 2021 statement.

According to the White House, approximately $6.5 billion in funding for transportation in Michigan had been announced as of November 2023. The administration noted that rural and historically disadvantaged communities in the state would benefit from the planned investments.

The infrastructure law created the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, which allocates federal money to states with the goal of creating a standardized vehicle-charging network.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer first announced in May 2023 that Michigan had begun the application process for the grants.

“Michigan will lead the future of mobility and electrification and today’s announcement will help us bring home federal resources to build out our statewide electric vehicle charging network,” Whitmer said in a statement.

Aaron Keatley, chief deputy director of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, said in the same release, “Not only will the NEVI grant program help Michigan shrink its carbon footprint, but reductions in toxic tailpipe air pollution will help Michiganders breathe easier and healthier.”

The state had previously launched the Charge Up Michigan Program to fund the construction of charging stations in the state, and it had announced a partnership with Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin to build an electric vehicle route around Lake Michigan.

The governor’s office said the newly announced federal funding would be used in concert with those already existing programs with the goal of supporting 2 million electric vehicles on Michigan roads by 2030.