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Connecting Students to America’s Energy Challenge

The Obama Administration believes it is critical to tap the ingenuity and creativity of America’s students if we are to find solutions to the grand challenges of today.

The Obama Administration believes it is critical to tap the ingenuity and creativity of America’s students if we are to find solutions to the grand challenges of today. Yesterday, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan helped launch a new initiative based on this theme that will help address the Nation’s energy challenge while arming American families with beneficial information.

Along with Dr. Francis Eberle, Executive Director of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), Secretaries Chu and Duncan launched America’s Home Energy Education Challenge, a new initiative to help teach students and families about energy use at home, the overarching benefits of being energy efficient, and the potential synergy of saving money while saving energy.  The competition will encourage educators to use school spirit and competition as ways to unleash the creativity of students and equip them with the information to make smart energy choices.

“Energy efficiency is all about helping families save money by saving energy,” Secretary Chu said yesterday. “America’s Home Energy Education Challenge leverages the passion and curiosity of students to encourage families across the country to reduce energy waste in their homes while inspiring the next generation of America’s energy leaders.”

One of the reasons I’m excited about America’s Home Energy Education Challenge is because it will encourage students and parents to access their own energy usage data online to measure their progress in this exciting competition.  But this challenge shouldn’t be limited to students and their parents.  It is just one example of how energy information can empower all consumers to better manage energy use and save money, all while helping to reduce the Nation’s overall power bill.

All consumers—residential and commercial—deserve timely access to their own energy data in machine readable formats.  With proper privacy protections, we can empower consumers, enable better decisions, and spur innovation. In light of that, I issued today an energy-data challenge in my remarks at Connectivity Week to the electric power industry. Here is the challenge: 

How can we securely provide customers electronic access to their energy information, thereby supporting the continuing development of innovative new products and services in the energy sector?

Engaging Americans of all sorts as well as American institutions—be they students, parents, or businesses—will help ensure the United States answers this call to action as it has many times before.  To learn more, check out the newly-revamped and stay tuned for a White House summit on grid modernization in the next month.

Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer