A few weeks ago, I attended The Business of Plugging In event at Motor City Casino, which was sponsored by DTE Energy, General Motors, and the University of Michigan. This first-time event, which was attended by more than 700 executives from vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, energy companies and government agencies, aimed to help coordinate the business and policymaking sides of the emerging plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market.

 

Several thought leaders and advocacy groups shared their position on the future of this industry. One group whose initiatives I found to be very promising was the Edison Electric Institute. On the last day of the conference, the group declared an imperative to prepare for the use of electricity as a crucial transportation fuel in the future: the nation’s electric utilities collectively pledged to move forward aggressively to create the infrastructure to support the full-scale commercialization and deployment of PEVs. And the wheels are already in motion: besides testing “smart” charging systems that can provide load management or vehicle- to-grid applications, utilities also have started installing advanced metering infrastructure to support electric drive vehicles and evolving rate design and managing electricity demand.

 

After two days of being fully immersed in all things related to the future of electric vehicles, I walked away inspired and excited at the opportunities ahead for the U.S. and especially for metro Detroit. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us to ensure alignment of the economy, technology and infrastructure but there is a light at the end of this long tunnel that leads us to PEVs becoming a promising alternative to current vehicle power train technology that offers the potential for clean, diversified and secure energy solutions.

— Jennifer Ristic