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WATCH: Interview with Ana Medina, DTE Energy's Program Manager for Electric Vehicles

 

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Local News / Automotive

Friday, 19 August, 2011 2:43 AM

DTE Energy adds 16 new charging stations to the metro Detroit area

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The electric company will install 16 charging stations like these in Romulus, Ferndale, Mount Clemens, Rochester, Rochester Hills and Auburn Hills.

 

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

|

DETROIT -- DTE Energy is in the process of installing 16 new charging stations for electric vehicles across southeastern Michigan. Metro Detroit currently has 58 charging stations online, according to the ChargePoint Network website. These new charge points will bring that number up to 74. All of these stations will be free to park and to charge. Only four other metro areas across America have more charging stations -- San Francisco with 232, Seattle with 86, Los Angeles with 84 and Grand Rapids with 77.

The charge points are being installed with help from General Motors and a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Four of the 16 charging stations will be installed at Detroit Metro Airport -- two on the eighth floor of the McNamara Terminal parking deck and two on the fourth floor of the North Terminal's Big Blue Deck. Two stations will be built in Ferndale, Mount Clemens, Rochester, Auburn Hills and at the Village of Rochester Hills. One charging station will be installed in Saline and another at the Automation Alley tech center in Auburn Hills.

"We have a fleet of electric vehicles," said Ana Medina, DTE Energy's program manager for electric vehicles. "What we have here for our visitors who come are four ChargePoint charging stations and we just added a Schneider charging station. You can plug here if you're at a meeting or employees from DTE Energy can use them."

The five charging stations at the electric company's corporate headquarters in downtown Detroit are only for those who have official business with DTE Energy. They are located just off First Street.

"This is more of our visitor parking lot," she added. "People who either work here or at a meeting are able to come in here and plug in here."

How were the locations selected for the 16 new charging stations?

"I think that one of the things we looked at are where we have the cars coming," Medina explained. "We have seen that we have clusters of early adopters that are buying the Chevy Volt. That along with locations like Metro Airport, which are perfect locations for people that are going there and park for a few hours and get a full charge. That's kind of how we look at it. Of course, we are working with different partners that we have, different communities and different employees to select the locations. We also worked with GM and the DOE to determine the locations for them."

Will these stations be free for consumers to park their car and charge?

"Yes, most of them are," the program manager said. "The way that initially they're going to be handled, people are going to be able to come. If the charging station is open, they're going to be able to plug in at no cost."

Do you see any additional charging stations being added in the future?

"I think our goal will be working with those from the DOE grant that we have," Medina added. "That's the scope of that project. Maybe later on, there's different grant opportunities that different people are taking advantage of. We're hoping that we've got the non-residential public charging stations stated and then others are going to be able to start putting charging stations in."

How is DTE Energy handling the extra load from consumers charging their electric vehicles?

"Over the last few years, we have been working in conjunction with automakers, understanding the cars coming to the market," she explained. "We have done extensive modeling to see the impact of plug-ins on the grid. Overall, the grid is ready. We're ready from a generation to distribution system capacity. I think the other thing that we are also doing is we're offering discounted rates for people to charge off-peak. I think that is going to be another step that is also going to further help us manage the load, people charging off-peak. We're doing a lot of education around that. I think that will really help overall."

Will DTE be increasing its output to make up for the charging of electric vehicles?

"No, from a generation standpoint, I think we're ready to manage the load for PEVs [plug-in electric vehicles] for the next five to 10 years," the program manager said. "Overnight, which is when people plug their cars in, we have plenty of capacity to handle that load."

The first 2,500 buyers of electric vehicles in metro Detroit will receive a free 240-volt home charging station and special electric vehicle rates.

"Along with the two discounted rates that we have, people that sign up for them and show that they have bought an electric vehicle, they qualify for a $2,500 incentive, which includes the equipment, the wiring and the separate meter wiring as well," Medina added. "That's for the first 2,500 customers or the end of December 2012. It's a pilot program. We have about 100 customers that have taken delivery of the Chevy Volt. We're having a very good success take on the program."

If someone wants to go downtown and catch a Detroit Tigers or Red Wings game, where should they charge their electric vehicle?

"I think there are a few websites that have where the charging stations are available," she explained. "People can go to websites like PlugInMichigan.com, the Electric Drive Transportation Association. They also have a very good website, which offers links to different providers like Google Maps. They have now a feature where you can plug in where the charging stations are. You can also check whether they're open or not. People should plan in advance if there is a station close by that they can use."

To find an electric vehicle charging station in your area, visit www.mychargepoint.net.

Related Story: Test Drive: Living with a Chevrolet Volt is easy and painless

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The new stations will be free for consumers to park and to charge.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Four of five charging stations already installed at DTE Energy's visitor parking lot are on the ChargePoint Network.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Those are for visitors with official business with DTE Energy only.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

However, the 16 new stations will be located in public parking spaces.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A new Schneider charging station was just installed a few days ago.

 

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