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Google's PowerMeter Links with AlertMe, UK Utility

GooglePowerMeter1Updated: The Obama administration has just funded the rollout of 18 million meters with stimulus funds, but here’s another way to get access to energy data without one of those new digital meters: This morning UK energy management startup AlertMe says it has joined up with Google’s (s GOOG) energy management tool PowerMeter. AlertMe, which makes the monitoring device and is backed by venture capital firms like Index Ventures and VantagePoint Venture Partners, will use PowerMeter to help customers track their energy consumption online in the iGoogle format.

AlertMe’s gadget is the second device partner that Google has announced in recent months and the first one in the UK. Earlier this month Google announced that the Energy Detective, made by Energy Inc, would be its first hardware partner, enabling U.S. customers that have bought a TED 5000 to monitor energy consumption on a PC. As Google’s Tom Sly told us earlier this month, Google plans to keep adding to its list of device partners.

The more gadget partners for PowerMeter, the quicker home owners could have access to real time energy data. TED and AlertMe customers don’t need a smart meter. AlertMe also says that it is the first gadget partner for Google that doesn’t need an electrician to install it — users just clip the reader onto the old electricity meter and plug into their home broadband connection. For the TED, customers need an electrician.

Bypassing the meter also means that customers can get their energy data more quickly than through most utility-sanctioned in-home energy dashboards. Most of the utilities are sending the energy data from the smart meter to the utility backoffice to be displayed to the customer in a 24 hour period. But the data from AlertMe and TED can sync with your PC or mobile device via broadband in real time.

The 3-year-old AlertMe raised £8 million ($13.04 million) back in June in a Series B round from Good Energies, Index Ventures, SET Partners and VantagePoint Venture Partners. The company’s home energy management product uses a Zigbee-based wireless network, sensors and smart plugs to monitor and manage energy consumption in homes. The kit, which costs £1469.00 plus £92.99 per month (Update: the company changed their pricing, the previous was the old pricing) is one of the few energy management products that is actually available now.

AlertMe is also working with utilities, and has a trial going with a division of British Gas, one of the largest residential suppliers of gas and electricity in the UK. The trial with British Gas is focusing specifically on a heating system that can be controlled remotely, enabling home owners to turn on/off, up/down their home heat from any broadband-connected device, like a PC or cell phone. British Gas is offering AlertMe gear as a voluntary option, and customers will have to pay for the upfront hardware as well as a recurring subscription service fee.

Google is also very keen to work with utilities for PowerMeter. The search engine giant is already working with about 10 utilities, including San Diego Gas & Electric, TXU Energy, Wisconsin Public Service, White River Valley Electric Cooperative, JEA, Glasgow EPB, Reliance Energy (India), and Toronto Hydro–Electric System (Canada). And this morning Google also announced its first UK utility partner first:utility, a new independent utility based in Warwick, UK. Google says first:utility is “the only energy supplier in the United Kingdom to provide free smart meters to its customers.”

7 Responses to “Google's PowerMeter Links with AlertMe, UK Utility”

  1. As a user of TED and now the Google power meter, there are still some issues with the Google software. 1) there are issues with the Google software being able to read more than one breaker box, 2) the software doesn’t allow for aggregation on more than one device… to see your total home consumption, 3) if there is a blip in recording on the TED device, then google will take the full sum of missing usage. This means that at certain times google will show 20x the actual usage because it wasn’t communicating with the device and 4) google really doesn’t show that much information. The TED browser interface is much better and useful.

    The idea and for the most part the products are great. But consumers should recognize it takes some comfort working with high home voltage systems to install yourself and that noise on your internal electrical lines can cause the devices to fail to communicate.