Friday, May 13, 2011

Will Microsoft Be the Google of EV Charging Stations?

Cellphone apps and other corporate tech partnerships are quickly filling the void of governments to provide information to the public about where to find an EV charging station. In an industry so heavily subsidized by the feds (you can get a $7,500 rebate for buying just about any EV model on the market), you would think the associated infrastructure for cars would get attention from the public sector.

However, if you take a look at the recent budget cuts that were approved in Washington DC several weeks ago, it's becoming clear that projects dependent on federal funding for green projects - this runs the gamut from high-speed rail, electric vehicles, public transit, and other sustainable urban planning methods - are facing a grim future.

The highlights from the impending doom scenario?
  • $34 million cut from the Renewable Energy Program (Agriculture)
  • $80 million gone from the Environmental Quality Incentives program (Agriculture)
  • about $900 million cut from FEMA - God help us if when we see another hurricane like Katrina (Homeland Security)
  • $50 million from Climate Change programs (Interior)
  • $25 million from FTA Energy Efficiency Grants (Transportation) that funded much of California's EV charging infrastructure
And....the big ticket items:
  • $2.9 billion eliminated from high-speed rail (HSR) funding, before even a single mile of it has been built in the US! The "flagship" line under construction between LA and SF might well be the only one at this rate. This comes as many of the more idiotic Red States are having the gaul to reject HSR funding and return it to the feds! No thanks, Obama :) You can take your cutting-edge infrastructure and thousands of construction jobs, because WE DON'T NEED THEM! Is it just me, or do Republicans have a near-perfect record of laying waste to the projects big cities need for their economic survival?
  • $3 billion gone from highway construction - part of these cuts make sense, there is definitely a solid argument that highways encourage poorly-planned, sprawling development patterns. But do Republicans hate both trains and highways, or just hate any kind of movement in general??? I just don't get it.
  • $600 million gone from public housing programs like HOPE VI and Section 8
And things looked so good for environmental projects back in 2009 when Obama passed the ARRA. So this is the funding void we're dealing with for EV infrastructure.

Thankfully, big corporations like Microsoft and Google are seeing the tremendous opportunity that investing in EV infrastructure holds.

The database is called the Microsoft Utility Rate Service (MURS), and it will be available via subscription to government agencies, power providers, auto makers, and electric vehicle charging equipment companies. It will allow consumers to search the full range of EV charging utilities to find the best deal on charging electricity nearest them.

More info from the Inhabitat story:

According to Warren Dent, director of business development at Microsoft, MURS will be offered in at least 17 different markets — mostly on the East Coast and West Coast — but also including cities like Detroit, Denver, and Chicago.
To get going, Microsoft is collaborating with one-to-three utilities in each region to get access to the data, and is expecting that its partnerships with companies like Duke Energy, Xcel Energy, and Portland General Electric will provide it with more relevant information. The pricing information will then be sent from the utility companies to Microsoft, which will relay that information to MURS subscribers. MURS sends the data directly to the plug-in vehicle, eliminating the need for interaction with drivers.
Currently, Ford is utilizing on Microsoft’s service to allow its drivers to charge their cars when utility rates are lowest. kind of like a Craigslist for where to plug in your EV batteries? Hopefully this will level the playing field as far as EV charging networks are concerned and allow more innovative companies enter the market and offer cheaper alternatives we can take advantage of. Microsoft may be a dinosaur among the high-tech world, but here its program sounds like a winner!

Via: Inhabitat 

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