Google Leads Charge for Universal Smart Meters

Google Leads Charge for Universal Smart Meters

Image CC licensed by Flickr user aaron_anderer

[Editor's note: This article originally appeared at, and is reprinted with permission.]

A group of more than 45 energy, investment and IT firms, as well as a number of green NGOs, have joined forces this week to call on U.S. President Barack Obama to explicitly support the roll out of advanced smart meter technologies for every household and business in the U.S.

In an open letter to the president orchestrated by the Climate Group and backed by a host of big name technology and energy firms, such as Google, AT &T, Intel, GE, HP and Verizon, the coalition asks the administration to "adopt the goal of giving every household and business access to timely, useful and actionable information on their energy use."

"By giving people the ability to monitor and manage their energy consumption, for instance, via their computers, phones or other devices, we can unleash the forces of innovation in homes and businesses," states the letter. "At the same time, we can harness the power of millions of people to reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- and save consumers billions of dollars."

Specifically, the group recommends that the administration launch a White House-led research program to work out the best way of providing consumers and businesses with energy use information, while establishing effective privacy rules.

It also called for the administration to direct federal agencies to ensure that the availability of energy data forms part of a wide range of existing low carbon and energy projects, such as Obama's home weatherization programs, energy efficiency grants, appliance standards, home and commercial building programs, and clean tech R&D funding programs.

The group added that there was a strong commercial case for supporting the roll out of smart meters and smart appliances capable of automatically turning off when not in use, noting that studies have shown they can help to cut household energy use by around 15 percent.

Writing on Google's official blog, the company's Energy Policy Counsel Michael Terrell said that the group, which hosted its first event in Washington D.C. yesterday, would now work together to develop policy proposals that could help improve the availability of energy use data.
Most of the companies signed up to the group have a vested interest in the development of new smart meter and smart appliance technologies, with Google, for example, investing heavily in its recently launched PowerMeter online toolset.

The Obama Administration has repeatedly signaled its support for smart grid technologies, earmarking large chunks of the stimulus package for investment in large-scale smart grid trials. However, the president has stopped short of emulating a number of European governments by setting a target date for the universal roll out of smart meters.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user aaron_anderer.