Coming back from a recent MCAN meeting, we stumbled upon the legendary car chargers of Alewife MBTA parking (2nd floor, right as you exit). Most of these are wrapped in black plastic, but someone is making an effort to expose them.
The charger itself is an ICS-200 (“Intelligent Charging Station”) a 240V,40amp unit. The manufacturer’s website look like it hasn’t been touched since 1999 – and neither have these chargers, I’ll bet. But they meant well, I’m sure.
I attended an enlightening workshop on Smart Grid development at yesterday’s MIT Energy Conference. While the political will to re-shape our electric infrastructure seems to be there (at least at the top, White House, DOE, etc.) the obstacles are, well – daunting on several levels. Security and technical standards are getting much attention, but I was glad to hear this panel address the communication and human factors involved. This is essentially a change management challenge, on a continental scale.
At least one speaker seemed to think that consumers will only pay for infrastructure upgrades if they see personal economic benefit, but I don’t agree. Americans pay enormous sums for things that provide social cachet or emotional rewards. I suppose we just need Smart Grid toys that are as cool as an iPhone.