Pay with Plugshare expansion to West Coast Electric Highway step in the right direction

Pay with Plugshare offers a great user experience to pay for electric vehicle charging sessions.  Ideally, rather than maintaining ownership in every charging network, you simply tap the Pay with Plugshare button in the Plugshare app.  It wouldn’t matter which charging network the station belonged to, you’d be able to pay for the session and Plugshare’s corporate parent (Recargo) will take care of settling the payments.

That reality hasn’t come to pass yet – but Recargo has just made a big step forward.   Until now, the feature has supported payments for the SemaCharge network.  On Monday, AeroVironment and Recargo announced a partnership allowing Pay with Plugshare use with any of AeroVironment’s on the West Coast Electric Highway infrastructure in Oregon and Washington.  Additionally, Recargo tells me that certain of the GE public charging stations also support Pay with Plugshare.

There is no add-on fee – Pay per use charge rates are $4.00 for charging on Level 2 stations and $7.50 for DC fast chargers.

This just made the West Coast Electric Highway more accessible to infrequent users.  The monthly WCEH membership doesn’t make sense for everyone — as a Californian contemplating trips to Oregon once the fast charging gap between the SF Bay Area and the Oregon border is closed, I want to know it’ll be possible to use WCEH fast charging stations.

Pay with Plugshare was added to Plugshare in October 2013, initially supporting the SemaCharge network.  At the time Recargo’s staff promised they were talking with other charging networks to have them also support Pay with Plugshare.  But there’d been no sign of progress.

Generally speaking electric car drivers dislike having to maintain memberships in umpty-ump charging networks.  What should happen in the market is some kind of interconnect system.  For example, credit cards and ATM cards and cell phones all offer ubiquitous service because of businesses operating back-end interconnect systems to handle payments settlement.  Look at the back of your ATM card or credit card and you’ll see various logo’s, like InterLink or the Star Network, etc, each of which are a business whose job is payments settlement between banks and vendors.

Shortly before Pay with Plugshare was launched, the big hope we had in this arena was Collaboratev.  That was going to be a joint partnership between ChargePoint and ECOtality (at that time, the owner of the Blink netw0rk) but ECOtality’s bankruptcy scuttled that plan.  Collaboratev was going to offer payments settlement between charging networks, starting with the two biggest fish in the pond.  When I interviewed ChargePoint CEO Pat Romano at that time about Collaboratev, he stressed that the ATM Network paradigm was driving their plans for Collaboratev.

But, of course, that project has gone by the wayside.  Which doesn’t mean our hope for an EV charging payments settlement system hasn’t gone away.  It’s still an unsatisfied need.

Which brings us back to Pay with Plugshare.  The feature offers an excellent user experience – you can, as I did back in October 2013, pull up to a charging station, and right on the spot register with the Plugshare app, give it your credit card information, and get on with the business of charging your car.  Best thing is that there’s no additional fee — unlike Collaboratev which was going to charge a fee (again, think of the ATM Networks and the fee for using an ATM not owned by your bank).  We hope that Recargo will find a way to more quickly expand the Pay with Plugshare service.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.
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About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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