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GE’s WattStation Connect lets you charge your neighbor’s wheels and wallet

GE's WattStation Connect lets you charge your neighbor's wheels and wallet

Electric cars — and the charging stations that accompany them — aren’t cheap. On average you’re looking to spend more than $30,000 for an all-battery electric or plug-in hybrid, and anywhere between $1,500 and $2,000 for a charging station to be lovingly installed in your home. But if you’ve made the switch to electric, a new cloud-based program can start helping you earn back some of that scratch.

General Electric’s WattStation Connect is a software management program designed to accompany GE’s WattStation chargers. It’s similar to programs like Recargo and PlugShare, which allow owners to broadcast publicly the availability of their stations. WattStation Connect takes it one step further, though, by giving entrepreneurial EV owners the ability to charge people’s wallets as well as their cars.

Considering the majority of people like to make money, GE’s WattStation Connnect provides a wealth of opportunity, literally, by allowing owners to generate revenue from their charging station. Businesses can get in on the action too. In fact, if we had to come up with an appropriate comparison, the closest thing we can think of is an ATM. Much like an ATM coughs up the cash from transaction fess  for its owner/operator, the potential for the WattStation do the same is certainly there. All you need you is the space, the station, and you’re set. People simply roll up, charge up, and you get paid. Not too shabby, eh?

WattStation owners can charge by the hour, by the kilowatt hour, or even charge a flat fee. Pricing doesn’t have to be universal either. Business owners can get away with letting their employees charge for free, while others have to pay.

GE is even pairing the service with PayPal in order to collect payments and provide various reports for owners, like how much money the station has made each month. The system can be accessed remotely, informing you which plugs are currently in use (if you happen to own more than one) and whether or not they are in need of maintenance. But don’t worry, if you’re not keen on sharing your electric juice and letting strangers roll up your driveway you don’t have to.

With the EV charging infrastructure still pretty sparse, it’s great to see GE offering a dynamic solution to this burgeoning problem. The demand for adequate charging options outside of the home will only continue to increase as more and more EVs hit the road, making it essential for drivers to have consistent access to re-juice their ride. And hey, if you can make some money from it – even better.

While the GE’s WattStation Connect software might be sound, we see a glaring problem: because the station itself is a level 2 charger most vehicles will need to sit for multiple hours. We can’t imagine people being all too excited for some stranger to be parked in their driveway for half the afternoon, but maybe we’re wrong.