Google, HP and General Electric are among the 47 companies and organizations asking President Obama to help make it so people can manage their energy consumption using computers, mobile phones and other Web-enabled gadgets. The groups want the Obama administration to create a smart grid to facilitate smart power management. Google, which depends on data centers that consume enormous amounts of electricity all over the world to run its search and cloud computing services, has been an aggressive proponent of progressive energy and power management.
Google, Hewlett-Packard and General Electric are among the 47 companies and
organizations asking President Obama to grant people the power to "monitor
and manage their energy consumption ... via their computers, phones or other [Web-enabled]
Google and its fellows urged the president in an April 5 letter to facilitate
a smart grid that would provide resources and tools to not only educate users
about their power consumption, but enable them to turn off lights in their homes
from miles away.
The parties argued in the letter that if U.S. citizens practiced home energy
efficiency and "saved 15 percent on their energy use by 2020, for example,
the greenhouse gas savings would be equivalent to taking 35 million cars off
the road and would save consumers $46 billion on their energy bills, or $360
per customer each year."
"What if we instead had access to more useful and actionable
information about our energy consumption?" Google said in a blog post
April 5. "What if
consumers could use this information to automatically adjust appliances, lights
and other equipment to save money and cut energy use?"
Google, which uses data centers that consume enormous amounts of electricity
all over the world to power its search and cloud computing services, has been
an aggressive proponent of progressive energy and power management.
Google in February received the right to buy and sell power
from the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission. Though it is not yet clear how Google will use its
position, the company has been active in trying to balance the growth of its
cloud computing clout while curbing power consumption.
To wit, a smart grid the way Google imagines it would necessitate the
implementation of applications and other tools for home energy conservation.
Google already offers PowerMeter,
a software gadget that shows users detailed information about their home
But Google and the other companies told Obama in their letter that the
effort requires "clear rules on consumer access to information; incentives
to promote the deployment of technologies, including cost recovery; programs
that educate and engage both providers and energy users; and encouragement of
diverse technologies. Robust privacy and security protection for consumers and
their information is essential."
Specifically, the group asked the president to lead "federal agencies,
states, industry and other stakeholders to determine the best strategies,
programs and policies needed to meet the goal of providing consumers access to [and
control over] their energy information."
The group also wants the president to "encourage the purchase and
installation of technologies, devices and methods of delivery" that
facilitate this effort.
Smart grids may well be the wave of the future. The Energy Department tabled
$3.9 billion in grants for smart grid projects, but these grants were delayed
over a disagreement about whether they should be designated as taxable income.
Google and its fellow supporters noted the Obama administration's
recognition of the current National Broadband Plan and asked for similar
support for the smart grid.
Google April 6 is hosting an event to discuss this smart grid technology
plan with senior White House energy official Carol Browner, director of the
Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, as well as corporate leaders.