Ecotality, Cisco Try EV Smart Charging

We told you recently about a Purdue University study that said electricity rate structures in many states – including giant California – could lead to sky-high energy bills for those charging electric vehicles (EVs) at home. Well, Ecotality, working with Cisco, thinks it now has the tools to help you avoid that unhappy fate.

The company announced EV owners will be able to access its Blink charging station through Cisco’s Home Energy Management Solution (HEMS), making it easy to charge a vehicle when rates are lowest and keep total home-energy use to a minimum. “The Blink interface communicates directly with utilities to determine off-peak and low-cost charging times, and allows consumers to maximize energy usage and reduce costs,” Ecotality CEO Jonathan Read said in a statement.

Blink home EV charging station, Ecotality

image via Ecotality

Cisco’s energy-management system is operated through a countertop touchscreen display. Through it, the company says, people can view and control information on thermostats, sockets, power strips and appliances. So this tie-in with Ecotality adds to the mix of control choices for the electric-vehicle charging station, which is useful when you consider the station potentially is a big power draw when working with EVs like the Nissan Leaf, for instance, which will use 34 kilowatt hours (kWh) for every 100 miles driven. (The average California household uses 580 kWh/month.)

Ecotality said the Cisco technology “will be deployed as part of the EV Project,” the government-backed program which foresees Ecotality installing some 15,000 charging stations over the course of the coming year. EV Project charging stations – 240-volt Level 2 stations – are being offered free, but it was unclear what additional costs might be entailed in using Cisco’s system.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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