eMeter Corporation
Contact Us

Green Button goes live. How can consumers use it?

Examples of how energy data from the Green Button can be usefully applied. (Click to enlarge.)

This week I was with U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra when he announced huge progress on the White House Green Button initiative. All three major California utilities (Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison) have gone live with green button on their websites.

Here’s how it works: After logging in, customers can click on that button and download up to 13 months of their detailed electricity usage data. Generally this is 15-minute or hourly interval data, but it can work for monthly data also.

So what? By itself, this data is virtually of no use. But here’s why consumers should care…

Chopra and many others believe that mobile app developers will step forward and provide interesting and even exciting uses for this data. With such apps on their smartphones, consumers could:

  • Get an immediate comparison of how optional time-of-use rate plans (now offered by many utilities) will affect their bills.
  • See a breakdown of their energy usage by appliance.
  • Calculate their potential savings and payback for installing insulation.
  • Join an energy game to rack up savings points (Simple Energy has already developed a prototype, which they showed at the meeting.)
  • Figure the costs and return on investment for installing photovoltaic panels.

With the apps market being so creative, I’m sure there would be many, many more.

Chopra also mentioned that other utilities (Glendale, Pepco and Oncor) have also committed to adding Green Button to their websites.

As I told Aneesh, this is a dream come true after 30 years in this business — for consumers, for society and for the environment.

UPDATE: On Jan. 20 the Association for Demand Response and Smart Grid held a webinar explaining Green Button. Archived recording and presentations are available online. More technical details on Green Button.

Also, the North American Energy Standards board has launched a new website that offers information about the Energy Service Provider Interface (ESPI), the standardized process and interface for the exchange of retail customer energy usage information. This is in partnership with the National Institute of Science and Technology, the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, the Department of Energy and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.