Midwest utilities collaborate on country’s largest interstate EV charging network

🚗 EVs: Five Midwest regional energy companies and one from just outside the Midwest are working together to build a multi-state network of electric vehicle charging stations to promote greater use of low- and no-emissions electric vehicles. Ameren Illinois, Ameren Missouri, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, Evergy, and Oklahoma Gas and Electric signed the memorandum of cooperation, and more power companies reportedly are considering joining.

  • The partners aim to have the charging infrastructure installed by 2022.
  • Specific details of charging locations have not yet been provided, simply that the network would stretch from Michigan to Kansas. Those details are subject to regulatory approval in each state.
  • Other regional private companies and states have invested in charging infrastructure, but this one is touted as the largest interstate network in the country.
  • Centered’s take: All signs point to the electric vehicle industry being on the verge of a boom; the Edison Electric Institute estimates 1.5 million EVs currently are on U.S. roads and that will expand to 18.7 million in less than 10 years. A lack of places to charge EVs is a big barrier for consumer adoption. But this network will help to boost confidence that drivers won’t get stranded without juice because chargers are available across a huge swath of the Midwest. Participating in this cooperative will also help utilities keep technology development and installation costs in check by pooling resources.

⚖️ LEGAL WRANGLING: In other EV news, state legislators in Michigan proposed legislation to bar electric vehicle startups — including Michigan-based Rivian — from selling directly to customers instead of through a dealer, Bloomberg reports. Tesla won a legal battle over this with Michigan auto dealers in January due to a workaround from the state attorney general, but the new legislation would prevent future such exemptions.

🌞 SOLAR: New photovoltaics, or solar cells, that reflect 99% of the energy they can’t convert to electricity could help to reduce the price of an energy storage application sometimes referred to as “sun in a box,” according to the University of Michigan. Estimates indicate this type of grid-scale energy storage could be 10 times cheaper than batteries.

🌱 BIOFUEL: Eight biodiesel users across the country — including two from Michigan and one each from Illinois, Iowa, and North Dakota — received match funding from the National Biodiesel Board for wraps or decals that will be affixed to biodiesel-fueled trucks to raise awareness of biodiesel technologies.


  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is partnering with nine Midwest community colleges to encourage conservation-minded farming. The partners committed to accelerating the adoption of technologies that promote both agricultural conservation and productivity.
  • U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue joined a ribbon-cutting ceremony for food company Benson Hill’s new high-tech headquarters in Creve Coeur, Missouri, reports Missouri Public Radio. The facility will be in a 600-acre innovation district and a focal area will be sustainable innovation on topics such as agronomy, data analytics, and machine learning.

🚀 PRODUCT LAUNCH: Eaton, whose U.S. headquarters is in Ohio, launched a product that regulates airflow in hydrogen fuel cells, which provides voltage control. A few customers already are using it in hydrogen-powered buses.

Eaton’s Twin Vortices Series technology for hydrogen fuel cell voltage control. (Photo: Business Wire)

🏆 COMPETITION: October 8 is the deadline for submissions to the American-Made Solar Prize, a competition led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy. The program accelerates disruptive solar industry technologies and distributes a total of $3 million in prizes and $900,000 in vouchers for use at national laboratories and other testing facilities.


  • Dubuque, Iowa-based software developer Cartegraph acquired water utility management software developer SEMS Technologies.
  • Milwaukee-based Westin Technology Solutions, a water utility technology provider, acquired the eRIS software product from Eramosa Engineering. The software is considered a leader for data visualization and reporting.

🎉 EXPANSION: NatureWorks, a bioplastic developer headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, is adding additional lactide monomer purification technology to its Blair, Nebraska, facility to expand the availability of its biopolymer.

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