Friday, June 22, 2012

Green Button Initiative

Even as the meter manufacturers and Government of India struggle with the development of a single metering standard for ensuring inter-operability of different meter manufacturers, the Green Button program in the US offers an excellent example of policy initiative that can define standards in an emerging industry.

The Green Button program, which is essentially an extremely user-friendly and real-time digital utility bill which can also function as a decision-support for consumers, is described thus,
Green Button is the common-sense idea that electricity customers should be able to securely download their own easy-to-understand energy usage information from their utility or electricity supplier. Armed with this information, consumers can use a growing array of new web and smartphone tools to make more informed energy decisions, optimize the size and cost-effectiveness of solar panels for their home, or verify that energy-efficiency retrofit investments are performing as promised. Consumers can even use fun innovative apps that allow individuals to compete against Facebook friends to save energy and lower their carbon emissions.
The program, launched in early January 2012, is now being offered by many major electricity and gas distribution companies in the US on their respective websites. It is an industry-led program is based on a common technical standard developed in collaboration with a public-private partnership supported by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Its voluntary adoption by utilities across the country "allows software developers and other entrepreneurs to leverage a sufficiently large market to support the creation of innovative applications that can help consumers make the most of their energy usage information". It will help consumers choose the most economical rate plan for their use patterns; deliver customized energy-efficiency tips; provide easy-to-use tools to size and finance rooftop solar panels; and conduct virtual energy audits that can cut costs for building owners and speed the initiation of retrofits.

The impressive acheivement here is the voluntary getting together of distribution utilities and their embrace of a standard which will help consumers compare between different suppliers. Government played an important role in facilitating this process in helping define the standards. A similar initiative will be extremely useful in financial sector, especially in the market for retail insurance and savings instruments.


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Niranjan said...

I wish Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm are active now. They could have helped consumers analyze their green button imported data and take steps to optimize their consumption.