Why should we have to wait for some smart grid of the future to access information about our home energy use, whenever and wherever we want it? All the data’s already there, somewhere inside your utility company’s computer records, isn’t it?
That’s the idea behind “Green Button,” a US initiative kicked off by the Obama Administration last year. Speaking at the annual GridWeek conference last September, US Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra issued a challenge to the energy professionals there: why not design a “Green Button” that’s standardized, easy to use and gives people electronic access to their energy information via their power companies’ websites?
The idea was based on the “Blue Button” program kicked off the year before by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Set up as a collaborative effort with the healthcare industry and non-profits, Blue Button involves placing, yes, a big blue button in an easy-to-find spot on healthcare providers’ web pages. With one click of the button, users can easily access and download their health records.
And so began Green Button.
Officially launched in January 2012, the Green Button program began with two utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric — implementing the one-click feature on their websites, providing access on energy use to customers across nearly 12 million households. And, soon, another 15 million more households should also be able to take advantage of the Green Button function.
That expansion looms with the announcement today that nine more utilities have joined the Green Button program: American Electric Power, Austin Energy, Baltimore Gas and Electric, CenterPoint Energy, Commonwealth Edison, NSTAR, PECO, Reliant and Virginia Dominion Power. Several smart-grid companies — Itron, OPower, Oracle and Silver Spring Networks — are also coming on board, joining Aclara and Tendril.