Below is the post that originally was put up on Mapawatt on the Utility Green Button.  As the Green Button is adopted by more and more utilities, I believe Home Energy Pros should make sure to inform every customer of its existence and how it can help homeowners better manage utility bills.

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The idea for the utility Green Button was first put forth by U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra in September 2011 when he was wondering why we can't do the same for energy data that we have proposed for health care data (with the newly created blue button). In the post announcing the idea for Green Button Mr. Chopra stated:

Why can’t the same common-sense concept be applied to the energy industry with a “Green Button”? Consumers should have access to their energy usage information. It should be easily downloadable and in an easy-to-read format offered by their utility or retail energy service provider.

So today at GridWeek, I challenged the smart grid ecosystem to deliver on the vision of Green Button and provide customers access to their energy usage information electronically. With this information at their fingertips, consumers would be enabled to make more informed decisions about their energy use and, when coupled with opportunities to take action, empowered to actively manage their energy use.


And surprisingly government and industry has already moved very fast to adopt the green button. There are already a set of standards for collecting green button utility data as set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

What's funny to me is that I didn't even hear about the Green Button until early March of 2012 when I read a comment on our post "Why is tracking energy consumption so hard". Eric Sandeen replied to the question of the post with:

Which is why we need the green button.

Unleash enough clever people to write portable (as in from utility to utility) apps, widgets, websites, etc to slice & dice this info, and a few really great ideas should rise to the top…


I'm going to just pretend that the U.S. CTO was able to travel to the future and read my post, then travel a few months backward and announce the idea like he came up with it all on his own.

There are many of those who believe that government should stay out of the free market, but I see this as an instance where government can work together with industry to create tools to help citizens better manage their energy consumption; which saves money for them and helps society as a whole by lowering pollution. It seems that the idea of the Green Button was created out of government, but will be adopted by the market to help the public. How is this anything but good and why did it take so long for such a simple idea to be adopted? Where was the free market in all of this?

As an example of how private companies are getting involved with the Green Button, this past week I received a press release from EcoDog, which we covered in our post on Testing out the EcoDog Energy Monitor. The FIDO energy monitor by EcoDog is a hardware and software platform, but their involvement with the Green Button seems to mainly be software (which I'm guessing they hope will turn in to more product sales). From the press release (which I'm showing as an example of how private companies plan to leverage the Green Button):

EcoDog CEO Ron Pitt commented, “We’re pleased that President Obama has recognized the importance of giving consumers better access to their energy information and applaud San Diego Gas & Electric for being one of the first utilities in the nation to provide customers with easy access to their detailed energy usage data. With their new Green Button tool, customers can download this data in a format that can be used for energy evaluation and analysis. To support their efforts, our team of software engineers has deployed a small subset of our sophisticated energy analytics software to enable SDG&E customers to get a better understanding of their energy use.”

SDG&E customers are invited to preview EcoDog’s Green Button app for Windows at: http://bit.ly/GreenButton. A web version that addresses Macintosh and other operating systems as well as support for additional utilities is in development.

The company's FIDO Home Energy Watchdog is an easy-to-use hardware/software system that shows homeowners exactly how and where they are consuming electricity on a real-time basis with room-by-room detail to achieve typical monthly savings of 15 to 30 percent and more. EcoDog’s FIDO system also offers advanced monitoring of solar and alternative energy generation.


Here's a great list of utilities and service providers related to the Green Button (data from the link shown below).

Utilities:

  • American Electric Power, serving 5.3 million customers in 11 states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia);
  • Austin Energy, serving 400,000 customers in Texas;
  • Baltimore Gas and Electric, serving 1.2 million customers in Maryland;
  • CenterPoint Energy, serving 1.8 million households in Texas;
  • Commonwealth Edison, serving 3.4 million households in Illinois;
  • NSTAR, serving 1.1 million households in Massachusetts;
  • PECO, serving 1.4 million households in Pennsylvania;
  • Reliant, serving 500,000 households in Texas;
  • Virginia Dominion Power, serving 2.4 million customers in Virginia and North Carolina.


Companies announcing planned involvement in Green Button:

  • Aclara
  • Belkin
  • EcoDog
  • Efficiency 2.0
  • EnergySavvy
  • FirstFuel
  • Honest Buildings
  • Itron
  • Lucid
  • OPower
  • Oracle
  • Plotwatt
  • Schneider-Electric
  • Silver Spring Networks
  • Simple Energy
  • Sunrun
  • Tendril


Other links:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/11/21/empowering-customers-gree...

http://gigaom.com/cleantech/utilities-embrace-green-button-energy-d...

 

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Comment by Bob Blanchette on March 30, 2012 at 3:15pm

Our utility is in the experimental stages with a tabletop "watt meter" that monitors consumption for the entire house on a live basis. This year we are rolling out the smartgrid thermostats that work with variable peak pricing and automatically adjust the temperature according to rates.

http://www.ogepet.com/programs/smarthours.aspx

Comment by Chris Kaiser on March 30, 2012 at 5:50am

Bob, the utility puts the data online, but do they make it easily accessible?  That's what the green button will do.  For instance, my utility puts the data online, but I have to login each time, remember where to find it, figure out how to get it in a usable format, download it, reformat it, etc.  The green button will allow for people to create third party tools to make this process much easier and accessible.

Comment by Bob Blanchette on March 29, 2012 at 6:28pm

FWIW "green button" is also the control to start Media Center in Windows.

Agreed people knowing use helps with conservation. Our utility already puts the data online.

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