We wanted a visible sign of our commitment to addressing climate change, as well as to be able to play an active role in educating our community about the benefits of technology in addressing climate issues. -Steve Bertman, member of Temple B'nai Israel in Kalamazoo
As the Detroit Auto Show is in full swing, Electric Vehicles are more and more at the forefront, showing us that the transition to EVs is also in full swing. With the tax credits included in the Inflation Reduction Act that offer Americans incentives to purchase new and used electric vehicles, it seems rather clear that Electric Vehicles are not only here to stay, but are beginning to make a major impact on the automotive industry, and hopefully, less impact on the climate.
Jennifer Odza, a member of Temple B'nai Israel (TBI) in Kalamazoo, charges her electric vehicle while at the synagogue.
And while a lack of charging stations has been one barrier to the expansion of electric vehicles here in Michigan, we are thankful to share that that does not need to be the case for much longer.
Houses of worship in Michigan are encouraged to investigate the option of an EV charging station for their own locations. The purchase and installation of a charging station was shown to be very achievable through the inspiring work of Temple B’nai Israel in Kalamazoo, recipients of a Cool Congregations award earlier this year. Steve Bertman, professor in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at Western Michigan University, has paved the way for us to follow, through his experience at Temple B’nai Israel in Kalamazoo.
Steve Bertman and TBI Rabbi Simone Schicker are glad to be able to charge their vehicles right in the congregation's own parking lot.
With a desire to take action to combat climate change, Steve and the Green Team at Temple B’nai Israel stepped into unknown territory by acquiring information on how to finance the installation of EV charging stations at the synagogue. Their research helped them to discover discounts and rebates that enabled the synagogue to successfully install two EV charging stations for less than $1,000. And while the financial cost can vary, it is encouraging to know that this is an affordable and attainable goal for places of faith that have made energy stewardship a priority.
The total project cost for the two EV charging stations at the temple was $8,000. Most of this was offset by a Consumers Energy rebate of $5,000 through the Power MI Drive incentive program. Congregations can discover more about Power MI Drive on their Consumers Energy webpage, and are encouraged to apply early in the year as the number of available rebates is limited.
For Temple B’nai Israel, further savings were achieved by an additional 30% discounted through a one-time arrangement with representatives of Enel X, the manufacturer that supplied the charging stations. Steve does caution houses of worship that outdoor access to electrical panels, and the cost of running the lines to the stations, can be an issue. In the case of Temple B’nai Israel, this cost was covered by temple volunteers and a congregation member who is an electrician.
Steve states that the Level-2 chargers came online in the early Summer of 2021. The Enel X Juicebox unit is managed by Enel X software and payments are made online through a 3rd party company. All users pay for electricity at the rate charged to the Temple. “Any driver can pull into our parking lot, scan payment information with a cell phone, using either an established account or credit card and plug-in”, says Steve. Congregants can charge their cars while attending services or meetings, and on average contribute $3.64 to cover the costs of a two-hour charge with a 60-mile range.
It is exciting that houses of worship in Michigan are discovering new ways to practice faith and creation care in 2022 and finding greater value in collaborative efforts as well. Resources to assist your place of worship to explore the option of an EV charging station as well as other sustainable practices are available.
If you would like more information about charging stations for your faith-based organization, please reach out to Hope for Creation in Kalamazoo (our Southwest Michigan IPL chapter!) at [email protected] and ask to be connected with Steve.
We are glad to be charging forward with EVs together!