May 7, 2012 | last updated June 4, 2012 12:10 pm

WattStation is star of GE Energy tour

HBJ PHOTO/KEITH GRIFFIN
HBJ PHOTO/KEITH GRIFFIN
GE Energy is taking its WattStation Connect on the road as the company shows off its solution to refueling electric vehicles.

In an early celebration of Cinco de Mayo called Fiesta Collaboracíon, GE Energy's Industrial Solutions business in Plainville kicked off the Electric Odyssey Tour on May 1.

It's a six-month business-to-business road show throughout North America that highlights product and service offerings from the Industrial Solutions business.

"It's all about our service and how we can improve existing facilities. We're bringing the trade show to our customers to improve their productivity," said Chris Bowler, general manager of marketing for Industrial Solutions. Each stop on the tour will have five to 10 GE employees, split between engineers and sales teams.

Attendees can experience the advanced Industrial Solutions technologies that touch all parts of the electrical infrastructure — including low- and medium-voltage switchgear, circuit breakers, transformers, arc flash mitigation products and lifecycle service solutions.

The tour will bring the latest industrial products, services and aftermarket solutions to GE's customers at more than 200 sites in some 80 cities across North America. From Plainville, the Electric Odyssey tour will head to North Carolina, down to Florida, across through Texas to California and then north to Washington state. In June, the tour will visit customers in across Canada from Vancouver to Montreal before returning to the U.S.

Connecticut, in addition to being the kick-off point, will also serve as the conclusion of the tour. Bowler said that would include stops potentially at locations like ESPN, which is in the midst of an expansion that includes GE Energy switching gear. "They are a big customer of ours," he explained.

Among the items being highlighted at the kick-off was the new ecomagination-approved WattStation and WattStation Connect. A complete, user-friendly electric vehicle charging station and software platform, the solution allows WattStation owners to manage charging stations remotely, giving them the ability to manage and set customer pricing for EV charging, provide access control at their facilities, generate reports and engage with customers in new ways.

Now available, GE's WattStation pedestal EV charger is easy to use, customizable and features a retractable cord. EV users can now gather information and process payments in an easy-to-use, customizable, reliable and secure system.

The WattStation Connect full-service software platform helps meet a wide variety of EV needs, whether it is a retailer looking to attract new customers (through loyalty cards that allow free charging, for instance), a commercial property manager in need of information on electricity usage or a fleet owner in search of better cost-allocation data.

Industrial Solutions is also looking beyond the charging station owners to create a larger market for them. Industrial Solutions is forming data acquisition agreements with key navigation companies to share information on the installations and availability of WattStations throughout the U.S. and Canada. This enables EV drivers to view and locate GE's WattStations, obtain directions to the EV charging stations, access pricing details and determine whether a unit is available for charging. In addition to global positioning systems, the GE WattStation Connect data will be available through the Internet, mobile app/device and future in-vehicle navigation systems.

The WattStations will charge electric vehicles at 220 volts, which quickly charges the batteries compared to a standard house outlet. Bowler said GE is exploring the possibility of the direct current 440 volt charging system that rapidly charges batteries in as little as 30 minutes. "It's part of our product development plans but it's a far bigger unit and far more expensive. It's about the size of a gas pump."

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