A group of middle school students from Grand Rapids Public School’s Center for Economicology crowded around Mayor George Heartwell on Tuesday to hear him announce five new Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) charging stations downtown. Second Ward Commissioners Rosalynn Bliss and Ruth Kelly, as well as a representative from Cascade Engineering, were also on hand for the press conference.
“We have to keep up with the demand for electric cars,” he told the students. “I bet by the time you guys are driving, 10 percent of the cars will be electric cars.”
That’s the goal, anyway. The mayor said that he hopes people will see the charging stations and be encouraged to buy electric vehicles.
“This will help give people who are contemplating buying an electric car some confidence that there’s going to be some place besides home to recharge them. This is an important start,” he said.
The stations, which look a bit like miniature gasoline pumps, are part of the government’s Transportation Electrification Initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs through the manufacturing of electric vehicles. The new charging stations are also a step in the right direction towards establishing Grand Rapids as a Michigan leader in smart grid technology – another includes the SmartStreet pilot program in the East Hills neighborhood.
“This is a great step for the community. Providing the necessary infrastructure will encourage and support those choosing to own electric vehicles and support the auto industry and industries both in the city and throughout Michigan,” said Heartwell.
To use the charging stations vehicle operators must contact their auto dealer or sign up for a ChargePass card online. Each station has two charge options: slow charge (10 hour) and fast charge (4 hour). To help recoup installation costs and cover operating expenses, motorists will be charged 50-cents per hour in addition to the regular cost of parking.
Charging stations can be accessed at the following locations:
1) Government Center Ramp (300 Monroe Ave NW)
2) Ottawa Fulton Ramp (50 Ottawa Avenue NW)
3) Gallery on Fulton Ramp (10 Commerce Ave SW)
4) Weston Commerce (16 Weston St. SW)
5) City Hall (300 Monroe Ave NW)