Google PowerMeter Gets Smart to Go Green

Think: did you leave a light on this morning? What if you could pull up your homepage and find out, right now?

As I wrote about last fall, companies from IBM and GE to startups are getting excited about green IT: Managing natural resources using computing intelligence. In the electricity industry, this means "smart grids" that distribute power more efficiently, avoiding peak loads, and home-based smart meters and software to help people measure and control demand in real-time. The Obama stimulus package would provide 40 million US Homes with the meters, but consumers still need a system to see and analyze the information. That's where Google comes in.

Google PowerMeter, now in internal testing, hooks up with smart meters to provide simple, clear realtime graphs of electricity use. You can post the gadget on your iGoogle homepage and share with friends to encourage competition. Studies show that simply seeing your home energy use can lead to savings of 5 to 15 %.

Besides promoting environmental goodness, Google obviously sees an opportunity to enter new markets here. They're investing with smart grid companies, and advocating with state and federal government for open standards and protocols to keep the market free for software solutions like PowerMeter, that are not controlled by utilities. They've partnered with GE and are holding a Smart Grid event together in DC on the 17 (GE ran a cute, if puzzling, Smart Grid ad as their first-ever Superbowl commercial).

By putting more information and thus power in the hands of consumers, the potential is to disrupt utilities' monopoly over the energy industry, the same way the Internet disrupted telecom and media ten years ago. Which makes this a real power move for Google.

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6 Comments

  • Hope Smarty

    Hi,

    I also like the idea that Google power is promoting. No doubt that it is a superb tool that will help people to keep a watch on their electricity consumption.

    To support the 'Go Green' movement at my end, I recently brought a electric bike from R Martin Bikes, and love the way it runs. Since my workplace is slightly far from my home I used to travel by a car, but now the enviornmentalist in me takes pride in using a zero pollution vehicle.

    Nice to see other people sharing views to promote this cause. I'll be back to read more. Till then,

    HAppy blogging

  • Robb Henshaw

    With PowerMeter, Google is validating the valuable role of energy monitoring in empowering end users with the information they need to take control of their personal energy consumption. I work with Fat Spaniel Technologies (www.fatspaniel.com), and we absolutely support Google’s stated principle that “open protocols and standards should serve as the cornerstone of smart grid projects” (from their blog). Last year we announced the industry’s first open energy monitoring solution – the Fat Spaniel Insight Platform™. We believe that in order to provide users with a complete energy solution, it must be an open platform that can monitor all devices and systems and distill the data into usable information. As such, Fat Spaniel will extend its open, standardized interface to Google’s PowerMeter once it is publicly released. We currently provide the monitoring technology for more than 2,000 renewable energy plants across 17 countries today, and we think that Google’s validation of the energy monitoring market will help spread the technology for adoption across all energy systems universally.

  • Marie Bahl

    Talk about a momentum booster. Google’s entrance into the smart grid conversation is great news all around, just as President Obama is turning up the volume on its importance as well. No one company or entity can tackle all the challenges around building the smart grid and populating it with smart meters. Google’s entrance into the conversation is not only a great complementary effort in providing consumers the tools they need to take charge of their energy consumption; it validates the issue. When Google speaks, people listen.

    It’s a piece of a larger platform approach—one that Tendril’s building out—that adds the necessary elements of consumer and utility control, in addition to device-level information, that enables a real-time dialogue between consumers and their energy provider. It’s great to see quickening momentum among vendors, utilities and consumers as we drive 21st century energy efficiency on the road to energy independence.

    Information is the key to change. Having Google throw their weight to drive real change is a huge win for the industry, for Tendril and for consumers.

  • Marie Zellar

    If this works as intended the world will be a better place. Energy usage is too ephemeral. The only feedback is when we get the bill and then it is too late. Go Google. Dang, what are they NOT thinking about right now?

  • Ken Smith

    To make the Google POwerMeter truly valuable there needs to be a renewable energy Internet - a distributed network of home, municipal, commercial and small-scale utility facilities generating power from wind, solar, geothermal, and other sources. Why an energy Internet? Because the smart grid to which the Google PowerMeter would be attached is 10 years away, off-shore wind is 10 years away, and major renewable plants are too far from major loads. Only through the development of a distributed network will we begin to move towards energy independence in the short-term. Read more at www.buildbabybuild.net.