CHEAT SHEET: Google-Microsoft Energy Smackdown, PowerMeter vs. Hohm

Google’s PowerMeter Microsoft’s Hohm
What it does: PowerMeter will take data from smart meters and process it into the PowerMeter interface, enabling consumers to see their energy consumption over time. Since smart meters are being rolled out by utilities, the tool will largely rely on utility deals. But Google has also said it is looking at ways to use energy data without smart meters, as well as working with third-party device and application makers. Hohm is a tool that will enable consumers to see their energy consumption over time and recommend ways to save energy. If Microsoft hasn’t hooked up with your utility yet, you can still enter some basic information into Hohm about location and home, and it will use predictive algorithms to predict your energy consumption. If Microsoft has partnered with your utility, Hohm will integrate your historical energy use, and you will eventually see data from smart meters once they have been rolled out. Like PowerMeter, Hohm will eventually be integrated with applications built by third parties.
How consumers will access it: Google plans to offer PowerMeter as an iGoogle gadget via the web. Web users will be able to integrate it into their Google home page. Third parties will offer hardware and software interfaces built on the API. Microsoft has a web site, microsoft-hohm.com (soon to be live), where consumers can log in and start the process of predicting, monitoring and eventually managing energy use. Microsoft also plans to offer an API for third-party vendors to build devices and software.
Utility partners: San Diego Gas & Electric, TXU Energy, Wisconsin Public Service, White River Valley Electric Cooperative, JEA, Glasgow EPB, Reliance Energy (India), Toronto Hydro–Electric System (Canada), and Yello Strom (Germany) Xcel Energy, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Seattle City Light, and Puget Sound Energy
Future plans: Google seems less strategic about its future plans for PowerMeter than Microsoft, and has said it isn’t necessarily interested in adding in more appliance-specific data and is largely relying on third parties to develop the services and applications for PowerMeter. Microsoft plans to use Hohm as the first step to working with smart devices and ultimately moving into the control layer for energy systems, either working with utilities to turn down appliances with smart plugs or developing smart charging software.
Business model: Has declared “no business model.” PowerMeter is free to use, and it is run out of Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm. Hohm is free to consumers, but Microsoft plans to charge utilities for services eventually, likely when it moves more into the energy control systems. The energy industry is a strategic business area that Microsoft is moving into.
How long under development: A little over a year. Two years.
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