DTE Energy and Consumers Energy have pledged to work together with four other energy companies to collaborate on a network of fast-charging stations from Michigan to Kansas, making it possible for electric vehicle owners to drive longer distances without worrying about their next charge.

A lack of charging stations is one of the barriers experts say has been limiting EV sales. Another problem is the amount of time needed to charge up.

Companies joining DTE and Consumers, both of Michigan, in the charging network’s memorandum of cooperation are Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, Oklahoma Gas and Energy, and Evergy, which covers parts of Missouri and Kansas. Other companies have expressed interest and may join the effort.

According to the Edison Electric Institute, more than 1.4 million EVs are in use today, a number expected to grow to nearly 20 million by 2030. The institute anticipates that a robust network of EV charging stations will be required to serve those drivers.

“Consumers Energy is committed to building the backbone of the charging network for electric vehicles across Michigan,” said Brian Rich, the company’s senior vice president for customer experience, in a statement. “We know we can play an important role in charging the growth of EVs in our state and region, and know that will be good for Michigan’s economy, our communities and the environment.”

Trevor Lauer, president and COO of DTE Electric, said DTE is doing what it can to make EVs a viable option for more people. “This pledge, along with the rebates we offer for EV chargers installed at homes and businesses, shows DTE is committed to a future of more environmentally friendly transportation,” he said.

Consumers and DTE have been offering financial incentives for businesses and homeowners to install charging stations. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy is also offering funding and planning for a statewide charging network, Crain’s Detroit Business has reported.

In 2019, DTE Energy introduced its Charging Forward program offering incentives for its business customers to install, own and operate direct current fast chargers along major highway corridors in southeast Michigan.

Consumers Energy’s PowerMIDrive program also offers rebates to customers for EV chargers at homes, workplaces and in public locations.

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