One of the biggest arguments against electric cars is that all those cars plugging in at the same time will overload our already beleaguered electric grid. And there might be some truth to that. When the flat screen television became popular almost overnight, some local grids were nearly overwhelmed, though eventually they adapted. But an electric car (depending on the battery size and how much it has been depleted) could possibly double home electricity use. With many utilities shifting to variable pricing based on time of day usage, that could start to add up the dollar bills, and fast.
Foreseeing this problem, Ford announced at yesterday’s news conference that they would be partnering with Microsoft to use the Hohm electricity-monitoring software to help regulate and optimize electric car charging.
If you haven’t heard of Hohm before, I don’t blame you. The quietly-announced program allows you to see how much energy you’re using, and where it’s going, with the ultimate goal of helping you optimize your energy usage. The Ford-Microsoft partnership will, in the future, allow you to add your electric car to the system. Electric cars can suck up a lot of electricity, and while it’s still a lot cheaper than using gas, there there are ways to save money like charging during off-peak hours (usually in the wee hours of the morning).
Right now, the software is mostly about charting and seeing where your power goes, but there was a lot of talk from Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (who appeared via satellite) about the potential for this project. Ford already has its popular SYNC software from Microsoft in over 2 million cars, and one day that same software could be used to control your home electrical use… from your car. Hohm can even help you figure out if your home is ready for an electric car, implying that certain homes might need a bit of sprucing up before they make the electric leap. The future is coming, so you all better get ready.