Californians can now access their energy usage with a click of a button. That’s because in January 2012, the Green Button program was launched with two of California’s largest utilities on board: Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric, serving more than 6 million customers. Green Button is an industry-led initiative in response to the White House’s call to action to provide electricity customers with easy access to their energy data.
Created based on a developing standard called Open Automated Data Exchange (OpenADE), Green Button uses the data to serve up CSV (comma separated values) to customers which can be exported and manipulated as the customer wishes. The US federal government wants to make this a national program so that customers throughout the country can optimize the cost and size of their solar photovoltaics, verify the efficiency of their energy retrofit investments, and so forth. California has demanded that it’s big three utilities start sharing information with their customers right away.
In addition to this online format, several companies are already working on iPhone/iPad apps, smartphone interfaces, and other web applications that would serve up Green Button data in different formats to offer even more functionality as well as energy efficiency tips, information on whether solar would be cost-effective for that particular consumer, and more. For instance, Opower, a company that provides energy efficiency tips to a collective 60 million utilities customers, is working with Facebook to develop an app that will allow customers to compete to save the most energy base on Green Button data.
According to the White House, this technology will soon be adopted by utilities in other states as well. So far, the following utilities have signed on to the Green Button Initiative (though many have yet to implement the program for their customers):
- American Electric Power
- Austin Energy
- Baltimore Gas & Electric
- CenterPoint Energy
- Commonwealth Edison
- Glendale Water and Power
- Pepco Holdings
- Southern California Edison
- Virginia Dominion Power
Success of the program will depend largely on the overall industry adoption of this practice, though the program looks promising.