Google PowerMeter ... coming soon. Electricity Monitoring ... here. Now.
We have been wishing for Google Energy Analytics for a long time. We've been keeping an eye on Eric Schmidt's speeches and paying close attention to Google's wedding vows with GE, hoping for evidence that Google was going to put its awesome information gathering and distribution tools to work on residential energy usage. This week, with their announcement of Google PowerMeter, it seems clear that they are going to deliver. We could not be happier.
Google's motives for entering the smart-grid debate mirror our reasons for launching Energy Circle. Residential energy efficiency is not the rarefied territory of new construction or high-end housing. It is not, and cannot be, a process limited to those who consider themselves "green." Home energy efficiency concerns every homeowner who cannot afford to continue wasting money. Google.org's comments to the California Public Utility Commission put it this way: "We believe that consumers have the right to know how much energy they are using and how much it costs, and to have that information available in a format that is easily accessible and understandable."
The challenge this project faces is that Google PowerMeter needs to collect data from somewhere. Clearly the emerging promise of widespread smart metering is the best source of this data, but we also know that for much of the US and Canada, ubiquitous smart metering is years away. We're constantly reminded, here in li'l ole Maine, of how "not smart" most electricity metering is when a very nice woman in a bright orange truck drives to our house every month to read the electricity meter (and give Theo a treat). Sweet? You bet. Smart? Not so much.
For those impatient folks like us who want to know now, consumer electricity monitors like the The Energy Detective (TED) and the BlueLine PowerCost Monitor are a pretty solid solution. They're great products that work now and provide all the benefits that come with demystifying your electricity use. And, as we learn more and work to partner with Google, our pledge is to use our relationships and development resources to be ensure that our products, and the TED in particular, will integrate with Google PowerMeter. Check out our video describing how electricity monitors work and how these easy to install and use tools can get you ready to roll down the road that Google is starting to pave.
Check back here for our continuing coverage of Google PowerMeter.