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Electrifying Michigan: A Guide for Landowners and Developers on EV Charging Stations

The rise of electric vehicles (EVs) is transforming transportation, making the need for charging infrastructure crucial. In Michigan, this shift offers landowners and developers a unique business opportunity. As we move towards cleaner energy, the role of EV charging stations becomes central, not just in supporting this shift but also in contributing to economic growth. This article explores the business models, laws, and financial incentives related to installing and maintaining EV charging stations, providing practical advice for those looking to invest in this emerging market. With the right approach, Michigan’s landowners and developers can play an integral role in the EV revolution, turning a sustainability challenge into a profitable venture.

Business Models for EV Charging Stations

Navigating the world of EV charging stations presents a range of business models for landowners and developers. Understanding these models is crucial for making informed decisions that align with your goals and resources. Let’s discuss some of the business model frameworks that can be employed.

Ownership Models

  • Direct Ownership by Landowners/Developers: This model allows you to control the entire operation, from installation to daily management. It requires a higher initial investment but offers complete autonomy over the charging station, including setting prices and managing the customer experience.
  • Partnerships with EV Charging Companies: Collaborating with established EV charging firms can mitigate some of the upfront costs and operational complexities. In exchange for providing space and possibly some investment, you gain access to their expertise, technology, and customer base.
  • Lease to EV Charging Service Providers: Similar to partnerships, this model involves leasing space to a charging company. However, the company assumes more responsibility for the equipment, installation, and operation, often with a fixed lease rate to the landowner or developer.

Operation Models

  • Self-Operated Stations: If you choose direct ownership, you might also opt to manage the station yourself. This approach gives you the highest level of control over operations and potentially higher margins, but it also requires more involvement in day-to-day management.
  • Outsourced Management to Specialized Firms: For those not keen on managing the day-to-day, outsourcing to firms specializing in EV charging station management can be a viable option. This frees you from operational burdens while ensuring professional management of the facility.

Revenue Models

  • Subscription-Based Access: Offering monthly or annual subscription plans can provide steady revenue and encourage loyalty among EV drivers, making your charging station a preferred destination.
  • Pay-Per-Use Charging: Charging a fee per charging session is straightforward and transparent, appealing to occasional users who prefer paying only when they need the service.
  • Free Access as a Value-Added Service: Providing free charging can differentiate your property, attract more visitors, and increase the value of other services or amenities you offer.

Each of these models offers distinct advantages and challenges. By considering your investment capacity, desired level of involvement, and target customer base, you can select a strategy that best fits your objectives. Combining different aspects of these models may also provide a tailored approach that maximizes benefits for both landowners/developers and EV users.

Regardless of the chosen business, operation, or revenue model, the foundation of any successful EV charging station venture lies in the strength and clarity of its underlying agreements. Contracts play a pivotal role in formalizing the relationships between landowners, developers, EV charging companies, and any other involved parties. They ensure that expectations are set, responsibilities are defined, and liabilities are understood by all. These agreements cover a range of crucial aspects, including but not limited to, installation costs, maintenance responsibilities, revenue sharing, and termination conditions. Working with experienced legal counsel to negotiate and craft such agreements is crucial.

Laws and Regulations Governing EV Charging Stations

While navigating the deployment of EV charging stations, it’s important to understand the regulatory landscape that shapes the sector. This landscape includes a mix of federal guidelines and, more predominantly, state and local regulations that directly impact the installation and operation of these stations.

Federal Regulations

At the federal level, regulations primarily provide a broad framework aimed at promoting the adoption of EVs through various incentives. Although these do not often directly dictate the specifics of charging station installation, they set the stage for environmental standards and financial incentives. It’s important to stay informed about these guidelines, as they can influence state policies and offer opportunities for federal grants or tax benefits.

State and Local Regulations

The core of regulatory compliance for EV charging stations lies within state and local jurisdictions. These regulations can vary significantly and include:

  • Zoning and Land Use: Local zoning laws may dictate where EV charging stations can be installed, affecting both residential and commercial properties. 
  • Building Codes and Electrical Standards: State and local building codes ensure that charging stations are installed safely and efficiently. Electrical standards, including those for power output and connector types, must also be adhered to, ensuring compatibility and safety.
  • Permitting Processes: Navigating the permitting process is a critical step in the installation of EV charging stations. This process varies by locality.
  • Accessibility and ADA Compliance: Ensuring that charging stations are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, is not just good practice—it’s often a legal requirement. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines may dictate the design and placement of charging stations.
  • Utility Regulations: Engaging with local utilities is essential, as their regulations can impact the installation process, operational costs, and potential grid impacts of charging stations. 

To give you a sense of the types of local regulations that govern EV charging stations in Michigan, consider the framework in the City of Ann Arbor. In 2021, Ann Arbor approved a new requirement for Electric Vehicle (EV) Parking Infrastructure to add to Chapter 55 of its Unified Development Code. The regulations include requiring new site plans for City Council to provide EV parking infrastructure, and standards for three types of infrastructure: EV Installed, EV Ready, EV Capable. In Ann Arbor, according to the regulations, a developer that proposes a project that requires a site plan must provide a certain number of EV charging stations on the site, and install infrastructure that can accommodate future expansions of EV charging stations.

Given the complexity and variability of charging station regulations across Michigan, seeking legal advice is important before embarking on a charging station project. An experienced lawyer familiar with local and state laws can provide guidance in navigating the permitting process, ensure compliance, and leverage any available incentives. This not only mitigates the risk of costly delays or legal issues but also positions your charging station project for success by aligning it with both regulatory requirements and community needs.

Financial Incentives for Landowners and Developers

The proliferation of EVs on Michigan’s roadways has underscored the necessity for robust charging infrastructure—a development that the state government actively supports. Programs like Charge Up Michigan showcase Michigan’s dedication to expanding its EV infrastructure, reflecting a broader commitment to environmental sustainability and technological innovation.

State-Level Incentives: Charge Up Michigan Program

Charge Up Michigan is a pivotal program born from Michigan’s allocation of the Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement funds. With $9.7 million earmarked for the enhancement of the state’s EV charging network, this initiative signals a significant investment in sustainable transportation. The program targets public and private entities capable of hosting publicly accessible charging stations, offering grants that can cover up to a third of the equipment costs, with funding of up to $70,000 per station location. A key requirement is the collaboration between applicants and the local electric utility, ensuring that new installations are seamlessly integrated into the existing electrical and community infrastructure. It’s worth noting that these grants are disbursed on a reimbursement basis, requiring recipients to front the project costs before receiving support.

National-Level Incentives: Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

On the national level, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 introduces substantial incentives for the installation of EV charging stations. Effective January 2023, the act provides a tax credit under Section 30C of the U.S. Income Tax Code, dubbed the “Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit,” which applies to up to 30% of the cost per charger. This incentive encompasses the charger, infrastructure upgrades, and installation expenses, with a maximum benefit of $100,000. Such financial support plays a crucial role in mitigating the initial investment required to build out EV charging infrastructure.

Navigating the Details

These incentive programs are designed to lower the financial barriers associated with the adoption of EV charging infrastructure, making it a more accessible and appealing investment for landowners and developers. However, the effectiveness of leveraging these financial incentives lies in the details. Whether considering state-level programs like Charge Up Michigan or federal incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s imperative to understand the eligibility criteria, application processes, and compliance requirements. Working with knowledgeable advisors can help demystify these processes, ensuring that projects not only qualify for these incentives but also adhere to the necessary guidelines for successful implementation.


The shift towards EVs is a pivotal moment for Michigan’s automotive industry and economy, more broadly, and it presents landowners and developers with a unique opportunity to participate in and benefit from this transformation. Through understanding the various business models, navigating the complex legal landscape, and leveraging financial incentives, stakeholders can effectively contribute to the expansion of EV infrastructure. If you have any questions or require assistance, please contact Zana Tomich.

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