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Electric vehicle charging stations starting to pop up in west Michigan

West Michigan will get 50 free public charging stations through a program funded by the federal stimulus program. The first one in downtown Grand Rapids is now up and running. It’s one of only a handful on the west side of the state. The other two are in Holland and a fourth is set to come online soon in Muskegon.

A group of regional leaders, the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, spearheaded an initiative to get the stations because they feel talk about electric cars is finally becoming a reality. “My concern was, people would want to buy these cars and then not have an option to plug it in. And we had to fix that, or be part of the solution,” said Greg Northrop, President of the WMSA. Northrop says the they also wanted to signal their support of electric vehicles; particularly considering there are 3 multi-million dollar lithium-ion battery plants under construction near Holland and Muskegon, supporting thousands of jobs.

“You’re hearing words about delivery of cars to dealers now. I can assure you that LG and the other battery manufacturers wouldn’t be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new plants if they didn’t have firm orders for batteries. So what that says to me is that there’s a pretty strong commitment to make this happen.”

There are dozens of free public charging stations already operating in southeast Michigan. More than 250 stations will be installed in southern Michigan under the program funded by the recovery act.

“We want to make sure that west Michigan was a place where people could buy an electric vehicle, or a hybrid, and have some degree of assurance that you could actually plug it in at a public station across the region that would make it easy for people to want to purchase these kinds of vehicles as an option.”

The cost associated with the stations is covered by a program funded through the federal recovery act. That program will bring around 250 stations to southern Michigan.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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