Earlier this year the Obama Administration launched the ambitious Green Button initiative, designed to help utility companies across the nation coordinate new energy-saving technologies with startups and other innovators, according to Triple Pundit.
Green Button calls for the utility sector to standardize its energy data and make it available to consumers in a user-friendly format online. The underlying goal is to ensure that energy consumers have a greater awareness of opportunities to save money.
Though standardization is a fact of life — think light bulbs and sockets — standardizing a new sector is a somewhat risky undertaking, but it seems that the program is quickly gaining support among utility companies and energy suppliers.
Green Button began with only about half a dozen utility companies when it launched in January, but it added nine more in March. Just yesterday, the Obama Administration announced that six more utilities and electricity suppliers have signed on.
This group of 21 companies already serves more than 30 million households and businesses, so even at this early point, Green Button has the potential to make a significant difference in consumer energy use.
The newest round of utilities includes Chattanooga EPB, National Grid, PacifiCorp (aka Rocky Mountain Power and Pacific Power), PPL, and TXU Energy. Previously signed up were Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Southern California Edison, Oncor, Pepco Holdings Inc., Glendale Water and Power, San Diego Gas & Electric, American Electric Power, Austin Energy, Baltimore Gas and Electric, CenterPoint Energy, Commonwealth Edison, NSTAR, PECO, Reliant, and Virginia Dominion Power.
In addition, about 500 utilities have added their names to the Department of Energy's new Utility Data Access Map, which will help consumers nationwide get information about their access to utility company data.
The 21 companies have agreed to adopt a single technical standard, which is being developed by a public-private partnership under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the Commerce Department. The Department of Energy is also involved in the effort to link utility data to a network of consumer-friendly tools.
According to a White House press release, the possibilities include Green Button-enabled web and smartphone applications that help consumers choose the most economical rate plan for their use patterns, as well as customized energy efficiency tips, guidance on solar installations, and virtual energy audit software.