The Green Button initiative provides residential and business customers access to their electricity consumption information, in a consumer-friendly and computer-friendly format. | Image courtesy of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
This month, the number of customers who can expect access to Green Button data grew to almost 31 million, thanks in part to Portland General Electric’s (PGE’s) announcement last Thursday, expanding access to their 820,000 customers. The Green Button initiative provides residential and business customers access to their electricity consumption information, in a consumer-friendly and computer-friendly format.
Last September, former White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra challenged the utility industry to make energy data more available to their customers, using one standard all providers could agree upon. By January, five electric utilities representing 18 million consumers had committed to implementing standardized Green Button data access. By March, the number had jumped to 27 million.
Last month, the Electric Power Board (EPB) of Chattanooga announced that it would offer Green Button data access to its 170,000 customers. In announcing its support for Green Button, EPB President and CEO Harold DePriest said, "EPB’s smarter grid, while reducing outage duration for our community by 40 percent or more, will also allow us to offer options and choices that have not been available to our customers before. The Green Button is a first step in making power consumption data easily and safely available to our customers should they choose to take advantage of the growing number of programs and apps being developed to help people manage energy use."
Both EPB and PGE are recipients of Recovery Act funding for the deployment and demonstration of smart grid technologies.
Among the ways that Green Button data empowers customers is by providing a standard for energy data. Those nearly 31 million customers will not receive exactly the same pieces of information, but the information will be organized in the same way. The Green Button tells applications on computers, tablets and smart phones exactly where to find the information they need to run. Customers can choose to share their energy data with a growing list of providers and channels they trust to give them more control and insight into their energy use. Just five months ago, it was mostly the utility’s job to think up uses for energy data. Now, at the consumer’s decision, it can be anybody’s.
For software developers, being able to develop apps that work across 31 million (and growing) customers is an increasingly attractive business opportunity. In just five months, there are already more than a dozen apps that use Green Button data. To showcase the newly available data, the Energy Department launched its first-ever Apps for Energy contest on April 5, co-sponsored by the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. The judges will announce their picks for the winning apps on May 22, but you have until May 31 to vote for your favorite.
The contest has produced some exciting apps, and consumers will see lasting value from the increased visibility of energy data and the growing community of software developers who know how to use it. Have you asked your electricity provider about Green Button data access?