It’s been a common theme in this blog that discussions about “Smart Grid” may be a little shortsighted, in that the longer term ramifications of all the energy-related changes are bringing about a Smart Energy Ecosystem, one where utilities and consumers develop new relationships for the production and consumption of power.

Today we’re even more convinced that this is the correct way to view and plan for the future, as Microsoft and Ford have announced a collaborative effort which leverages Microsoft Hohm to enhance the electric vehicle ownership experience. Consumer response to Hohm has been very encouraging to date, and we continue to both improve our product and grow our community.  Ford plans to integrate Microsoft Hohm technology into upcoming electric vehicle models, beginning with the Ford Focus Electric in 2011, a next-generation hybrid electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in 2012, and another next-generation hybrid electric vehicle in 2013. 

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As you know, electric vehicles will require consumers to change the way they think about personal transportation and energy use. With Hohm, Ford and Microsoft could help customers avoid unnecessary expenses by providing insight into their energy usage patterns and the ability to determine the optimal time to charge their vehicle - for example, between midnight and 6 a.m. when electricity rates are less expensive. 

To see more about this announcement, I’d encourage you to go here.

But what’s neat about this effort is that it follows one week on the heels of DistribuTech, the annual conference that Pennwell organizes for those in the transmission and distribution of electricity. electric vehicles, charging stations, distributed generation and storage were all hot topics for many of the presenters. Most were expressing concern about how they were going to manage it all and get those new grid enablers in place. It wasn’t a question of whether to do it or why they were doing it.

Microsoft finds itself in an interesting position here. Not only are we and our partners able to help utilities implement the business transformations needed to accommodate the coming smart energy ecosystem, but we are also able to help energy customers better understand their part in the equation as energy consumers. The importance of our Microsoft Hohm software becomes a key component in allowing customers access to their online energy accounts, to identify their usage patterns and the best recharge times for their vehicles, to save money and energy. While it’s not part of this announcement or the agreement with Ford, the next opportunity will be for those customers to store electricity produced by utilities – or their own wind turbines! – store them in their electric vehicles, and sell the electricity back to utilities during peaking events. Announcements like today’s indicate we’re probably closer to that time than we even know!

Anyway, I encourage interested readers to learn more about the Ford-Microsoft collaboration and then to let their imaginations run wild, like roaring down a highway in an electric Ford Mustang. “Someday” is sooner than you might have thought. – Jon C. Arnold