The Rapidian

A Watershed Moment: Converting Energy into Smart Energy

Kristin van Reesema is the Smart Street Project Manger for Consumers Energy in Grand Rapids. She was also a panelist at WMEAC's Smart Grid Energy Forum this winter.
Kristin van Reesema was one of three panelists at the Smart Street Energy Forum this past winter

Kristin van Reesema was one of three panelists at the Smart Street Energy Forum this past winter /Holly Wright, Journalism and Illustration intern at WMEAC

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"A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media  Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.


The way energy is delivered to our homes is changing. Energy service providers are beginning to use Smart technology which will deliver and use energy more efficiently, and be more cost effective.

Consumers Energy and SmartStreet is leading the energy efficiency revolution in Grand Rapids.  A home or business with SmartStreet technology collects energy usage data that can be viewed in almost real time. Customers can then utilize this data to effectively change their energy usage practices so that energy isn’t wasted and money can potentially be saved.

Consumers offers different energy plans that best fit a customers needs. The budget plan has a flat charge rate and customers pay the same amount every month. The time of use rate plan charges a higher rate for energy usage during peak energy times (typically 2pm-6pm) and a cheaper rate during off-peak times. The new plan shifts the energy load, allowing generators to run more efficiently and excess energy is not sitting waiting to be used. It encourages users to be more aware of when energy is being used and for how long they use it.

“What we have found is that people that are on the budget plan, because they don’t think about it, they actually use more energy than [people on the time of use rate plan],” says van Reesema. The budget plan is appealing because people can more easily budget their money, but they are not budgeting their energy usage. Budget plan users end up using more energy than those who can look at their home’s data and change the way energy and appliances are used, in order to make their home energy system more efficient.


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