Nissan Leaf info screen

Can Microsoft become the go-to source for locating the cheapest charging stations in the U.S.? The computer giant will try, starting with the launch of a national database of plug-in vehicle charging rate plans called the Microsoft Utility Rate Service (MURS).

MURS will be available via subscriptions to government agencies, power providers, auto makers and electric vehicle charging equipment companies. According to Warren Dent, director of business development at Microsoft, MURS will be offered, at least initially, in 17 metropolitan areas like Detroit, Denver and Chicago, with most of the rest located in the coastal states.

Microsoft is forming collaborations with between one and three utilities in each region. Its partnerships with companies like Duke Energy, Xcel Energy and Portland General Electric will give the software company access to the relevant information that it needs to form the database. Pricing data will be relayed from the utility company to Microsoft and on to MURS subscribers and finally sent to the plug-in vehicle. MURS requires no interaction directly from plug-in drivers. Microsoft may be slicing its own path with MURS, but it probably won't take long before other companies jump in on the action.

Photo copyright ©2011 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

[Source: Plugin Cars, Reuters]

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