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‘Green Button’ Project Unlocks Energy Consumption Data For Californians

Green button

In only a few months, many Californians will have the ability to download and analyze their energy consumption with the click of a button. The new program, first proposed by U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, is called the “Green Button” initiative, and could revolutionize how consumers view their energy consumption.

Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric will be the first to offer the service to their 6 million customers, followed by Southern California Edison to 4 million customers later this year. A cascade effect is sure to follow, with utilities in other states including Texas-based Oncor and Mid-Atlantic utility Pepco already planning to jump aboard.

The primary purpose of the Green Button initiative is to provide users with an open-source platform to download data of home energy consumption. Users will be able to access their energy data in common database formats such as CSV (comma-separated values) files, which can be opened in tools like Excel. XML formatting will soon follow.

Although the first iteration of the Green Button program will provide users with basic data analysis, it will pave the way for new and exciting ways to look at energy data.

For instance, providing the data in standardized formats offers 3rd parties endless opportunities to develop apps that consumers can use to interact with their data. Consumers will be able to crunch their energy consumption numbers in a variety of ways.

Initially consumers will be able to observe energy consumption patterns over time. But some companies will offer other possibilities, like Simple Energy’s online energy-saving game, or Dr. Wattson’s rate structure planning tool.

Clearly the Smart Grid revolution is beginning to take hold.

It is spurring technological innovation in both hardware (such as the Nest Learning Thermostat) and now software.

What are your thoughts on the future of Smart Grid technology? Would you be interested in interacting with your own energy consumption data?

Image CC licensed by Ivan Walsh: Big green button

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