When I think about real time power usage data, I am thinking about data that is being made available that very second. Data that is being reported in real time is like watching a football game live. You know that the running back just added 10 yards on to his total because you just saw the run on the T.V. That's real time.
It is being reported that the Green Button program being offered by many power companies allows customers with a Smart Meter to see their power usage in real time, like a live football game. By signing up for the program with your power provider, you can have access to real time power usage data from the comfort of your own computer, iPad, smart phone, etc. I have new information that this may not be true.
On the website, ourenergypolicy.org, the news article states, "Utilities around the country have begun to sign on to the initiative and commit to provide their customers with real-time energy use data."
I find that most articles and news sources about the Green Button plainly state real time data.
I think I may have jumped to the wrong conclusion concerning the Green Button and real time power usage data. What I consider real time may not be what the Green Button considers real time. The Green Button and I may not be watching the same game, or at least, the Green Button is watching a taped delayed version.
In my article Pushing This Green Button Will Lower Your Power Bill, detectenergy.com, I made the assumption that the Green Button Program offered by power companies provided the customer with real time data. I my article under the heading, What does all this mean to the average consumer? I boldly stated," It means that if you sign up for the program, you will be able to get real time energy usage data on your computer or other connected device, iPod, smart phone, etc."
A couple sentences later I pronounce,"Click on the Green Button and the computer will take you to the pages that are displaying your energy usage right at that time of day."
After I posted my article on homeenergypros.lbl.gov, I began receiving some comments - which is one reason a person like myself would post to an energy website in the first place.
A comment by Kevin Strong pointed out that I might be using the wrong definition of real time. This is important, not only do I want my articles to be accurate, I want the Green Button to be real time like my football definition, not like the energy policy news reported above.
Kevin comments,"Green Button data is NOT real time. It is typically at least a day old, and is hourly interval data. Here in California, the residential smart meters have one reading taken per hour, and then these are typically only uploaded over the smart grid to the utility in batches. I think every 8 hours at minimum, if not only once per day, and then only made available to customers the day after. My understanding is that this is the way most smart meters will work nationwide. The smart grid is not designed for real-time data coming from smart meters."
The more I think about it, in order to have real time energy use data, the data would have to never leave your house. It would have to go directly from your smart meter or electrical panel to your computer or other monitor. Power monitors like FIDO by EcoDog retain their advantage by providing actual real time usage data.
Information found on the PG&E website does not identify the Green Button as providing real time usage data, PG&E states that, "Customers can designate up to 13 months of data to be delivered in a single file. If the customer has not had a Smart Meter connected to the network for that long, then the customer can only download the amount of interval data since the transition."
PG&E goes on to say,"Making detailed energy usage information available in a standardized file format encourages awareness of energy use as well as innovation among third parties for new customer-focused applications." The information from PG&E talks about detailed energy use data, but does not mention a word about real time.
I think the most people, myself included, have incorrectly assumed that the Green Button was going to provide real time energy usage data. Thanks to Kevin, I think I have found an error in my assumption.
I am going to follow up on this Green button, real time problem - get the straight information, reconsider the implications concerning conserving energy and get back to you. There appears to be an importance difference between real time energy usage and detailed energy usage. Stay tuned to detectenergy.com for future, detailed updates.
Thank you for stopping by detectenergy.com, hope you come back in real time, but I won't leave the light on for you..