RACINE – The City of Racine will be a stop on a new 1,100-mile route around Lake Michigan designed for operators of electric vehicles (EVs), state and local officials announced here Tuesday morning.
The Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle (EV) Circuit Tour is a collaborative effort from the governors of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, said Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld. Following the Lake Michigan shoreline, the route – including 350 miles in Wisconsin – will eventually have conveniently located charging stations for the benefit of EV drivers.
“The Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit Tour will be the best new road trip for EV drivers in the nation,” she said. “This is what the future will look like.”
The multi-state agreement calls for officials to develop a network of EV charging locations along the lake coastline. The goal is to build enough chargers at locations along the route to support roundtrip EV travel based on the number of annual tourists using the network, according to a DOA statement.
Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson said plans call for EV charging stations to be no more than 50 miles apart and no more than a mile from a highway. At present, just two sections of the Wisconsin EV trail segment are more than 50 miles between EV charging stations.
“For EV owners, the biggest peace of mind is knowing there is a charge nearby,” he said.
Electric vehicle charging stations can boost local economy
The state Department of Transportation (DOT) will coordinate with local communities and the private sector to ensure that electric vehicle charging stations are easy to find and located near other amenities, such as attractions, food and shopping, Thompson added. The DOT will also provide directional signage for the charging stations.
The announcement was made at the City of Racine’s solar-powered EV charging station located outside of City Hall, 740 Washington Ave. That facility, installed last year, has already proven popular with visitors, said Racine Mayor Cory Mason.
“We’ve gotten great feedback and it’s provided a boost for tourism spending,” he said. The City Hall EV charging station is free. While their vehicle is charging, travelers will frequent Downtown Racine retailers and restaurants.
No cost estimates nor a timeline for the overall EV charging station network were given Tuesday. Speakers pointed out that the new EV trail announcement ties in with Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ Clean Energy Plan.
The first-ever plan, announced in April includes recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve reliability and affordability of clean energy, reduce fossil fuel pollution, and strengthen the clean energy workforce.