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San Diego to test mobile electric-car charger

How do you charge your electric car while on the go? San Diego Gas & Electric will test device that allows drivers to charge car battery and have usage added to their bill.

Plug-in electric car drivers in San Diego will be able to charge up at a friend's house without leaving behind a hefty electric bill.

Utility San Diego Gas & Electric said on Wednesday that it plans to use a mobile car-charging device from Juice Technologies as part of a trial of plug-in electric cars in the region.

A portable smart charger that will be tested for billing an electric-car owner's utility account while on the go. Juice Technologies

As part of a giant Department of Energy battery funding project, the city is one of five locations in the U.S. to set up a network of charging stations for about 1,000 Nissan Leaf sedans made available to consumers.

Juice Technologies, based in Columbus, Ohio, will supply its Plug Smart "intelligent charger" which should allow people to charge cars anywhere in SDG&E's service territory and have the usage billed to the driver's account.

The product, which can fit inside of a car trunk, also allows people to schedule car charging to take advantage of off-peak rates and to view data, such as the amount of kilowatt-hours used and carbon emissions.

The utility wants to use the charger to let consumers control charging and view their energy usage via the Web or a cell phone when used with a smart meter, said Hal Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for SDG&E, in a statement.

Juice Technologies will show a prototype of its Plug Smart device at the Plug In 2009 conference in Long Beach, Calif., next week.

The portable device would address one of the conundrums associated with plug-in electric vehicles: how to "refuel" on the go when there's a lack of public charging stations.

Nissan's all-electric cars, which are supposed to have a 100-mile range, are expected to be available next year. But there's significant concern with the lack of charging infrastructure--often referred to as the electric car industry's chicken and egg problem. The Energy Department program includes $400 million, out of $2.4 billion, for charging infrastructure for consumers' cars and trucks.