California utilities launch web-based energy data tool

Three utilities in California have launched a web-based tool called Green Button that will deliver real-time energy data to their consumers.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) are the three utilities behind energy data initiative, which will reach out to more than 10m customers during 2012.

Those who use Green Button via the three utilities will be able to download the past 13 months of their energy data, so they can analyse their energy usage. The move by the California utilities is a first of its kind in the US, with PG&E and SDG&E already providing Green Button data to about 6m consumers in California and SCE planning to roll out the button to its 4m customers later this year. Consumers will be able to upload their data on for analysis.

Opportunities for green app developers

The technology itself uses a cloud platform that has been developed by a Colorado-based company called Tendril.

The utilities also believe there will be opportunities for developers in the energy app marketplace to create tools to help people control their home energy use, cut waste and lower their bills.

Smart grid

It was just this past September that the Obama Administration’s chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra made a Green Button challenge in a blog about the start grid. At the time, Chopra wrote: “Why can’t the same common-sense concept be applied to the energy industry with a ‘Green Button’? Consumers should have access to their energy usage information. It should be easily downloadable and in an easy-to-read format offered by their utility or retail energy service provider.”

Speaking yesterday, Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck said the company’s cloud-based platform was designed to connect utilities and energy service providers, consumers and app developers to achieve smarter energy usage.

Social energy app

The Californian-based online gaming platform Simple Energy has already integrated with Green Button. Simple Energy has developed a social energy application to allow customers to compete for energy savings to win prizes. The application is now available to over 15 million homes in California and Texas and is available as a web app, by email and on Facebook. A mobile app will also go live this month, said Simple Energy CEO Yoav Lurie today.

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