New Industry Commitments to Give 15 Million Households Tools to Shrink Their Energy Bills



New Industry Commitments to Give 15 Million Households Tools to Shrink Their Energy Bills

Washington, D.C. -- Responding to President Obama’s call for an “all-of-the-above” strategy to help consumers reduce their energy costs, the Administration announced today that nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will commit to providing more than 15 million households access to data about their own energy use with a simple click of an online “Green Button.”  By providing consumers with secure, easy-to-understand information about how they are using energy in their households, Green Button can help them reduce waste and shrink bills.

“Empowering American families to shrink their own utility bills is an important part of this Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  “With new online tools made possible by the Green Button, families will have easy access to information on how they can reduce their energy use and put more money in their pocket.”

“Green Button will arm millions of Americans with information they can use to lower their energy bills,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Innovative tools like these are good for our economy, good for the health of our communities, and an essential part of our approach toward a secure and clean energy future that works for Americans.” 

Inspired by a White House call to action, Green Button is an industry-led effort that allows electricity customers to download their household or building energy-use data in a consumer- and computer-friendly format. 

The utilities and electricity suppliers making new commitments include:

  • American Electric Power, serving 5.3 million customers in 11 states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia);
  • Austin Energy, serving 400,000 customers in Texas;
  • Baltimore Gas and Electric, serving 1.2 million customers in Maryland;
  • CenterPoint Energy, serving 1.8 million households in Texas;
  • Commonwealth Edison, serving 3.4 million households in Illinois;
  • NSTAR, serving 1.1 million households in Massachusetts;
  • PECO, serving 1.4 million households in Pennsylvania;
  • Reliant, serving 500,000 households in Texas;
  • Virginia Dominion Power, serving 2.4 million customers in Virginia and North Carolina.

These utilities have agreed to base their Green Buttons 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. Adoption of a consensus standard by utilities across the Nation means software developers and other entrepreneurs have a sufficiently large market to support the creation of innovative applications that can help consumers make the most of their energy information.  Companies announcing today commitments to support utility deployment of Green Button include Itron, OPower, Oracle, and Silver Spring Networks, joining existing commitments from Aclara and Tendril.

Green-Button-enabled web and smartphone applications promise to help consumers choose the most economical rate plan for their use patterns; provide customized energy efficiency tips; provide easy-to-use tools to size and finance rooftop solar panels; and deliver virtual energy audit software that cuts costs for building owners and gets retrofits started sooner.  Companies announcing today that they are developing applications or services for businesses and consumers using this industry data standard include: Belkin, Efficiency 2.0, EnergySavvy, FirstFuel, Honest Buildings, Lucid, Plotwatt, Schneider-Electric, Simple Energy, and Sunrun.

The commitments announced today build on similar commitments made in January by Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Southern California Edison, Oncor, Pepco Holdings Inc., Glendale Water and Power, and San Diego Gas & Electric to provide the capability to nearly 12 million households in 2012.

Additional Steps by the Federal Government to Empower Customers

Leveraging the commitments by the private sector, leading Federal agencies including the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology announced today that:

  • Apps for Energy Contest to Spur Development of New Online and Mobile Tools – With initial co-sponsorship from the Pacific Gas & Electric Company and Itron, the Department of Energy announced today its first Apps for Energy contest to spur development of energy-related software applications, based on the Green Button standard, that will help consumers gain new insights, take action, and save on their utility bills. The contest complements a recently closed $8 million grant funding opportunity to help consumers better manage their energy consumption from new smart grid technologies.
  • Providing Transparency to Consumers – The Department of Energy launched today an online map that enables utilities across the country to show the progress they are making towards providing their customers access to their own energy data in consumer-friendly and computer-friendly formats.
  • Technical Assistance to Industry – The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, a public-private partnership supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, announced today a new initiative to facilitate Green Button implementation for the electric industry.

Building on Success

The Administration has been working to shrink consumer energy bills. This includes:

  • Reducing Energy Bills for Low Income Americans:  Since October 2009, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have completed energy upgrades in more than one million homes. On average, these upgrades save American families more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone.
  • Lowering Energy Costs for Renters and New Homeowners:  Through housing assistance programs, HUD has completed over 9,500 ENERGY STAR installations and has performed over 17,500 efficient energy modifications that are helping low and moderate income families them save money on their energy bills.
  • Improving Energy Efficiency through the ENERGY STAR Program:  DOE and EPA’s ENERGY STAR program made significant progress in 2011 through its vast network of partners to help Americans make informed decisions about cost-effective ways to save energy at home, at work and in our communities. Since the program was established 20 years ago, Americans have saved billions on their utility bills.
  • Setting New Standards for Residential and Commercial Appliances:  In August 2011, DOE issued final energy efficiency standards for home refrigerators and freezers that will improve their efficiency by about 25 percent by 2014.  These standards are expected to deliver more than $200 in electricity bill savings for the typical consumer.