DEARBORN, MIConsumers Energy has teamed up with Ford Motor Company and 14 other utilities on a proposal to promote the use of electric vehicles. The automaker recently submitted a proposal for a national pilot project, which includes a request for a grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The proposal outlines how Ford will supply the utilities with plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) to use in their daily operations. The utilities also will develop and install "smart" charging facilities for the vehicles. The data from the vehicle use and charging systems will be shared to help shape the power infrastructure needed to meet customer needs as the use of electric vehicles expands.

John Russell, the president and chief operating officer of Consumers Energy, said the proposal provided an excellent opportunity for the utility to support Ford and be part of the automaker's efforts to promote the use of electric vehicles.

Consumers Energy provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.