Consumers Energy and Project Collaborators Kick Off Energy-Saving SmartStreet Program in Grand Rapids' East Hills Area

Dec 03, 2010, 14:30 ET from Consumers Energy

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Dec. 3, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- One of Grand Rapids' most historic neighborhoods – the East Hills area – will be undergoing a "smart" makeover next year that will encourage energy efficiency and sustainability, as well as savings for Consumers Energy electric customers.

Consumers Energy, the Michigan Public Service Commission, the City of Grand Rapids and other project collaborators today announced the launch of the utility's innovative SmartStreet program at the Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) building, 920 Cherry St. SE.

"Today's SmartStreet launch showcases Consumers Energy's commitment to partnering with our residential and business customers using innovative technologies to help them control their energy costs," said John Russell, Consumers Energy's president and chief executive officer.  "We selected the East Hills neighborhood to launch SmartStreet because we want to demonstrate that engaged customers can save money when they apply new energy efficient technologies."

Today's news conference included an informative display of electric smart meters which will be installed at approximately 60 East Hills homes and businesses in 2011.  Unlike existing electric meters which only measure energy usage, smart meters will allow two-way communication between the utility and its customers using wireless technology.  Smart meters have the ability to send near real-time updates to home computers or energy management systems to let customers know what they're paying for energy usage and allow them to participate in new, money-saving programs.

"The SmartStreet program will empower customers like never before by giving them new tools to save money and energy," said Orjiakor Isiogu, chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission.

"The City of Grand Rapids is pleased to continue its strong partnership with Consumers Energy through the innovative SmartStreet program planned for launch in the East Hills neighborhood," said George Heartwell, Mayor of the City of Grand Rapids.  "We're excited at the prospect that local residents and businesses will have the opportunity to save energy and thereby save money through the SmartStreet program. I look forward to the expanded use of smart meter technology in the future."

East Hills residents and businesses recently received information from Consumers Energy encouraging them to sign up for the SmartStreet program, have a smart meter installed and participate in a free energy performance survey to help them save money on their energy bills. In addition to benefits identified through the surveys, SmartStreet participants will be given special tools and information to help reduce their electricity consumption, such as a personalized Web portal or an in-home display device.

SmartStreet also will feature demonstrations of Michigan products and services, solar panels as well as a charging station for plug-in electric vehicles located behind Marie Catrib's restaurant, 1001-07 Lake Drive SE, near the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

Other Grand Rapids locations expected to participate in the SmartStreet program in 2011 include the Public Museum of Grand Rapids and the City/County Administration Building. SmartStreet project sponsors include the city of Grand Rapids, East Hills Council of Neighbors, Environmental Defense Fund, Masco Home Services/WellHome, Full Spectrum Solutions, Honeywell Utility Solutions, West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Cascade Renewable Energy, Choose Renewables, Silver Spring Networks, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College, Rockford Construction,  Habitat for Humanity - Kent County and Schaafsma Heating and Cooling.

The ICCF building was constructed in 1908, served as an orphanage for 40 years, and has been fully renovated by Rockford Construction.  It is Gold-LEED Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

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.

SOURCE Consumers Energy