Right now, plug-in vehicles can operate just fine using standard outlets and infrastructure. Sure, they like higher voltage outlets to charge in less time, but if you can charge your cell phone you can – somehow, maybe with a little effort – charge your car. The big promise of plug-in vehicles, though, is how they will interact with the coming smart grid to lower prices and make the grid a more stable thing. Well, that is, if said smart grid ever arrives.

Last week, the Maryland Public Service Commission rejected a proposal by Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. to install smart meters throughout the state, a move the New York Times says jeopardizes, if not ends completely, "what had been one of the Obama administration's leading investment commitments to smart grid technologies and consumer energy conservation."

One of the problems is that the state commissioners did not like the idea of "dynamic" energy rates that would make daytime electricity more expensive and drop the prices at night. Utility commissions across the U.S. are apparently hearing from state consumer advocates and retiree organizations that dynamic rates are a bad idea. Of course, overnight, low-cost charging is one of the great ways to use energy that would otherwise be wasted and to save money on filling up your electric car.

The decision is a setback, most certainly, but speakers at "The Future of the Smart Grid: Early Lessons Learned from the Rollout of Smart Grid Technologies" panel at the Atlantic's "Future of the City" conference last week said all is not lost. Utilities and others who want to see a smart grid deployed in the U.S. need to do a better job of eduction and outreach, they said, to build support for a grid that plays nicer with our plug-in vehicles.

[Source: New York Times via Infrastructurist, | Image: this lucid moment - C.C. License 2.0]

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