This afternoon President Obama is visiting Ohio State University to highlight some of the nation’s most advanced energy-related research and development projects. Technological innovation is a key element in the Administration’s “all-of-the-above” strategy to reduce energy costs for consumers while protecting health and the environment—a strategy that focuses on developing cleaner and more efficient energy sources and also on novel ways to help consumers conserve energy and save money right now. That’s why we are pleased to co-host a White House event today at which utility company CEOs from across the country are committing to participate in the “Green Button” initiative.
Green Button is an industry-led effort that responds to a White House call-to-action to provide consumers with easy-to-understand data about their household energy use. At today’s event, nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will sign on to the initiative, committing to provide more than 15 million households secure access to their energy data with a simple click of an online Green Button. That builds on similar commitments made by utilities in January to provide Green Button capability to nearly 12 million households this year. With that information in hand, consumers can take advantage of a growing array of online services that can help them manage energy use and save on their bills.
In fact, companies are already developing Web and smartphone applications and services for businesses and homeowners that can use Green Button data. These tools can help consumers choose the most economical rate plan for their energy use patterns; deliver customized energy-efficiency tips; provide easy-to-use tools to size and finance rooftop solar panels; and conduct virtual energy audits that can cut costs for building owners and speed the initiation of retrofits. A number of companies today added their names to the growing list of innovators developing Green-Button-compatible apps and services.
Federal agencies are doing their part as well. The Department of Energy today announced today an Apps for Energy contest to spur the invention of tools and services that will help consumers gain information, take action, and save on their utility bills. The contest complements $8 million in grant funding that is helping consumers use new smart-grid technologies to better manage their energy consumption. The Department of Energy today also launched today an online map that shows the progress utilities are making towards providing their customers access to their own energy data in consumer-friendly and computer-friendly formats.
The Environmental Protection Agency has also joined the Green Button team. The agency has committed to working with entrepreneurs and utilities to take advantage of Green Button data to help commercial building owners benchmark the energy use of their buildings and deliver ENERGY STAR performance scores using the EPA's measurement and tracking tool, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.
We are excited about Green Button, which in its simplicity and innovative power is helping Americans track their energy use and save them money—all while helping the Nation achieve the important goals of saving energy and reducing pollution.
John Holdren is Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Nancy Sutley is Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality