How best to grow Michigan’s electric vehicle charging network is a question that will be addressed this summer.

The Michigan Public Service Commission announced Friday that a technical conference will be held in August “to study future regulatory and infrastructure issues as demand grows for electric and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.”

The announcement follows a Freep.com and Free Press report this month on the debate over electric vehicle charging in Michigan and a Consumers Energy proposal, which the utility withdrew after pushback, to vastly increase the number of public charging stations in Michigan.

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Advocates for expanding electric vehicle usage in Michigan applauded Consumers for taking the issue seriously, but concerns were raised by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and others, including Chargepoint, a private charging network company in California, about the effect on ratepayers and competition.

Electric vehicles are a small part of the car market, but some experts believe a proliferation of new models and improved range could boost their popularity. The conference is connected to the Consumers Energy proposal but has been expanded to include compressed natural gas vehicles.

The conference is Aug. 9 in Lansing and is open to the public. The goal is to address “the potential and challenges of public and private charging stations statewide” and topics are to include what’s needed at homes and businesses to allow users to access alternative fuels, the release said.

The conference, which will include representatives from utilities, automakers and others, is expected to clarify what impact utility investments in alternative fuel networks will have on ratepayers.

“With the increased use of alternative fuel vehicles, we want to ensure Michigan’s regulatory framework for electric and natural gas utilities can adapt to the quickly evolving technology landscape,” Sally Talberg, commission chair, said in a news release.

A statement from Commissioner Norm Saari noted that the commission “is not undertaking this conference with any predisposed ideas or conclusions” and that “we want to explore the best options for electric and compressed natural gas fueled cars and trucks in Michigan.”

Contact Eric D. Lawrence: elawrence@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence.

Conference details

The technical conference on the future of electric vehicle charging in Michigan is planned for Aug. 9 at the public service commission office, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing. Subject matter experts interested in participating in a panel are asked to submit a letter of interest, resume and…