Michigan utility regulators have approved the state’s first experimental rate for residential customers to recharge their electric vehicles.

The Michigan Public Service Commission said Tuesday that it has approved an application from DTE Energy Co.’s Detroit Edison unit. The commission says the program will help Detroit Edison evaluate the effect of electric vehicles on its system.

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“As manufacturers begin to sell plug-in electric vehicles, it is important that Michigan’s electric utilities be ready as well,” said MPSC Chairman Orjiakor Isiogu in a statement. “The program approved today will help Detroit Edison evaluate the effect of electric vehicles on its electric system, offers off-peak rates that customers can use to charge vehicles, and offers the infrastructure required to charge these vehicles.”

The program offers two options: a lower, off-peak rate customers can use to charge the vehicles, or a monthly flat rate of $40 per vehicle.

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The utility will pay up to $2,500 for a separately metered circuit with a charging station or for the station’s installation.

The rate runs through Dec. 31, 2012, and is available on an optional basis to up to 2,500 customers.

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