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Partnership will marry electric vehicle chargers, Cisco home energy manager

Chalk one up for the Cisco home energy management solution: the high-tech giant's new relationship with ECOtality will let people manage the way they use electricity for both their home and for their electric vehicles from a single place.Specifically, a technology agreement between the two companies will tie together the Blink Network charger interface with the Cisco Home Energy Controller.

Chalk one up for the Cisco home energy management solution: the high-tech giant's new relationship with ECOtality will let people manage the way they use electricity for both their home and for their electric vehicles from a single place.

Specifically, a technology agreement between the two companies will tie together the Blink Network charger interface with the Cisco Home Energy Controller. This will let users of the Blink Network Charging Stations use the Cisco touch-screen interface to optimize their usage. The chargers are Level 2 style (using 240 volt AC inputs), and they contain a touchscreen like the Cisco controller (pictured to the right). The integration will allow consumers/drivers to access the chargers remotely.

ECOtality, based in San Francisco, is the project manager for The EV Project, which is overseeing the installation of 15,000 commercial and residential charging stations across 16 cities in six states and the District of Columbia. The project is supported by a $114.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

"To the best of my knowledge, we are one of the first to recognize that integrating transportation energy is an important aspect of bring electric vehicles into people's lives," says Don Karner, president of ECOtality North America. He continues: "Cisco is very present within the home with its networking capabilities, and we are wanting to partner with best-in-class organizations in order to integrate."

There's a pretty good reason that you need to optimize when and how you charge your vehicle at home: According to Karner, electric vehicles could double the amount of electricity your household consumes. That sounds pretty horrifying, until you remember that you won't be paying for gas at the pump a couple of times a week. Still, it is important to manage the rates you pay closely.

Larry O'Connell, product line manager for home energy management with Cisco, says ECOtality is the first partner in an intended ecosystem of partners that plan to integrate their technologies with the Cisco home energy management technology. Companies can gain access to the application programming interfaces and soft development kit through the Cisco Developer Network.

The integrated technologies will likely find their way into homes soon as part of pilot programs planned for North America in 2011. Cisco and ECOtality says we'll hear more about utility partners for their technologies in the near future.