Developing a charger for a plug-in electric vehicle is hardly anything new, but the folks at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (or PNNL, for those in the know) have some considerably grander plans for their new Smart Charger Controller, which they say could one day serve as a standard charger for all sorts of electric vehicles. The key bit, it seems, is that each controller would be wirelessly linked to the local electric utility, which would feed the controller power prices and other information in order to let it charge during non-peak hours -- saving owners about $150 a year in energy costs as a result. It would apparently even be able to sense "stress conditions" and shut down before the grid gets overloaded. Of course, all of this depends on both the automakers and electric utilities getting on board, which could be quite a tall order, especially with another standardized EV plug
seemingly already on the fast track.