Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Office of Science and Technology Policy blog
Last year, in response to the Obama Administration’s call to action, 35 utilities and energy providers committed to provide 36 million homes and businesses with their own energy usage information in the consensus, industry-standard Green Button format.
Not only are utilities implementing Green Button Download My Data across the country for homes and businesses to securely download their information, but utilities in California and the Mid-Atlantic are beginning to implement Green Button Connect My Data functionality— making it easier for their customers to securely transfer their own energy usage data to authorized third parties, based on affirmative (opt-in) customer consent and control. These efforts will provide more than 11 million customers with an easy and secure way to automatically and routinely participate in energy saving opportunities.
Adopting the Green Button standard will enable households and businesses to more easily use web and smartphone apps to pick the best rate plan for them; take advantage of customized energy efficiency tips; utilize easy-to-use tools to size and finance rooftop solar panels; and download virtual energy audit software that can cut costs for building owners and help get retrofits started sooner.
Today, we’re excited to see Green Button enable energy innovation through new announcements for the industry-led Green Button Initiative:
Green Button is also adding value in the public sector. In Washington, DC, for example, the local government is working with the utility company Pepco to acquire details on energy usage in local government buildings, in order to identify opportunities to conserve energy, save money, and meet local sustainability goals. The Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program also just launched a new version of the Home Energy Yardstick tool that incorporates a Green Button feature. The Yardstick helps people compare their home’s actual energy performance to other homes.
As energy innovation continues to show promise for growing our economy, protecting privacy remains a priority for the Administration. To that end, DOE is helping to facilitate a multi-stakeholder process with utilities, privacy advocates, and others to develop a code of conduct that will help clarify for consumers and providers how energy usage data should be protected and when it can be shared.
Green Button is part of a comprehensive grid-modernization strategy, and recent estimates indicate that the Administration’s early smart grid investments have generated significant economic benefits for the American public. Investing in a modern grid – and continuing smart partnerships through the Green Button initiative - are important components of our strategy to cut energy waste in half by 2020 - and build a stronger, more resilient, and more competitive economy.
Monisha Shah is Deputy Associate Director for Energy and Climate Change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Nick Sinai is Deputy US Chief Technology Officer at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy