The DOE’s conference-call news conference today was FUBAR’d, apparently for technical reasons, so some of the facts that follow might not be totally right. Thus forewarned, I report that the agency announced that it will be providing $5 million to local governments to build out infrastructure it says is needed for electric vehicle growth, and also announced that its NREL will be working with Google to develop a data system and online network to monitor the nation’s EV charging stations.
The $5 million, from what I can tell, is for obvious things, such as the hardware for charging stations, plus less obvious needs such as background systems and software to handle everything from billing to enabling the option of recharging at off-peak hours. John Hickenlooper, governor of Colorado, said in the news conference that charging stations are costing $3,500—$5,000 each in his state.
A statement from the DOE says the agency hopes that, with the funding, “local governments and private companies will partner to apply for funding to help accelerate installation of electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure. Communities will work to develop plans and strategies for EV deployment, update their EV permitting processes, develop incentive programs, or launch other local or regional initiatives that improve the experience of EV users and help bring these highly energy-efficient vehicles in the marketplace.”
The conduit for the funding will be the Clean Cities Coalition program, an existing federally initiated public-private partnership to promote fleet-level fuel efficiency. Specific funding application information can be found here.
News of the NREL-Google partnership actually came out in mid-March but was largely lost among all the news regarding the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, so today’s announcement is something of a public rechristening of the effort. The project is called the GeoEVSE Forum and, on the DOE’s side, will be operated out of the agency’s Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicle Data Center. The AFDC, a group within DOE that goes back to the early 1990s, is sponsored by Clean Cities and managed by NREL.
In fairness, it should be noted that GeoEVSE includes many other partners and companies involved with EV deployment including charging equipment manufacturers, auto makers ISPs and GIS-related business. But, it’s the Google name that brings a sense of quality to the effort and attaches a good sense of what consumers can expect in terms of quality and ubiquity.
A new release from the NREL explains that the goal of GeoEVSE “is to establish a primary data source for GPS and mapping services tracking electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) locations – or charging stations. … The partnership will ensure consumers have access to charging station location data that’s inclusive of all equipment manufacturers and charging networks.”