Revving Up to Join the Plug-In Vehicle Charge

By James R. Healey
USA Today
04/05/08 4:00 AM PT

As plug-in vehicles inch closer to mainstream use, power companies have begun the task of establishing systems and standards for delivering electricity to motorists needing a recharge. One idea they’re working with is to demand lower prices from owners who will allow their cars to charge overnight during low-demand hours.

In a sign of accelerating progress on plug-in hybrids — the 100 mile per gallon vehicles you can’t yet buy in showrooms — electric utilities quickly are linking with automakers and tech companies to develop “smart-charging” technology that controls when and how fast a vehicle is recharged.

“Smart charging is an essential capability for Duke and all electric utilities as PHEVs (plug-in hybrid vehicles) enter the market,” Duke Energy chief technology officer David Mohler says. “Through this capability, we’re able to reduce stress on the grid during peak periods and keep rates low.”

As if to make the point that plug-ins no longer are exotic experiments, California clean-air regulators last week required automakers to put 58,333 of them on the state’s roads from 2012 through 2014.