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Consumers Energy, Collaborators Celebrate First Volt In GR

On the day celebrating the "wearing of the green," Consumers Energy and other local collaborators marked a milestone in the "greening" of Grand Rapids: The arrival of the first locally owned plug-in electric vehicle at the utility's public charging station.

This morning, local resident Merl Petzold plugged his new Chevy Volt into Consumers Energy's free public charging station located along Lake Drive in the city's East Hills neighborhood.

Petzold's visit helped officially dedicate the Coulomb Technologies ChargePoint America charging station. The station was installed in the parking lot shared by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Marie Catrib's restaurant and several other businesses in the East Hills area. 

The Chevrolet Volt, General Motors' first plug-in electric vehicle, is reaching Michigan showrooms this month.

The free charging station is the first public station installed in Grand Rapids, and is part of Consumers Energy's innovative SmartStreet program in East Hills.

"This public charging station, in addition to our PEV charging rates and our incentive program to encourage customers to install an at-home charging device, is all part of our commitment to be PEV ready as these cars arrive across Michigan," said Sue Swan, Consumers Energy's vice president of smart grid development. 

Swan joined representatives Thursday morning from the city of Grand Rapids, WMEAC and Berger Chevy, where Petzold purchased his Volt, to celebrate the milestone.

The company's PEV rate information, incentives, frequently asked questions and a "Get Plug-in Ready" checklist are available at The site provides details about Consumers Energy's PEV at-home charging rates and information to help PEV owners make the transition to electric-vehicle ownership. It also includes details of an incentive program to reimburse PEV owners up to $2,500 toward the cost of purchasing and installing an in-home charging station.

Thursday's dedication continues progress on Consumers Energy's SmartStreet program. Earlier this month, about 60 homes and businesses in the East Hills area received new "smart meters." In April, SmartStreet participants will get access to their energy information via a special website or in-home display device.  By accessing this information through a website or in-home display, customers can track energy usage by the month, week, day or hour.

SmartStreet is a demonstration of smart meter technology and Consumers Energy's existing energy efficiency programs. The program involves the 60 East Hills customers as well as the Grand Rapids Public Museum and the City/County Administration Building.  More information is available on-line at

Consumers Energy and the City of Grand Rapids frequently have worked to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy, including early participation in the utility's Green Generation program.

Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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