The Green Button project launches to unleash energy data

Power grid Old Delhi

The potential of open access to energy data has drawn U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra to the West Coast. On Wednesday morning Chopra and half a dozen utilities plan to announce the official launch of the Green Button initiative at an event in Santa Clara, Calif., which will enable utility customers to easily download their energy consumption data with one click in an easy-to-read format on utilities’ and third parties’ websites.

California utilities PG&E and San Diego Gas & Electric will announce on Wednesday that the feature is available now, presumably via a green button on the utilities’ websites. Other utilities including Southern California Edison, Glendale Power & Light, Oncor and Pepco Holdings will announce that they will offer the feature later this year.

The project is important because it is a broad-based plan to take energy data and standardize the format of it, open it up (while also providing security) and make it readily available to consumers. Data is commonly treated this way on the Internet, but for other sectors, open access to data isn’t as prevalent.

Standardizing and freeing the data can create an ecosystem for developers to use that data to create apps that can deliver new services and products. The Internet has thrived because of open data and standardized information systems. Delivering that energy data directly back to consumers is also important because it can lead to energy-efficiency measures and can help change a consumers’ energy-consumption behavior.

Chopra first introduced the idea of the Green Button initiative back in Sept. 2011 and challenged the utility sector to quickly work at offering customers standardized and easy access to their own energy information.

California utilities are moving first on this partly because last year the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ordered the state’s big three utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric — to follow its proposed ruling on privacy, security and access to energy data. That meant offering up consumers easy and secure access to their data.

A score of startups, utilities and government officials will be at the event on Wednesday looking to discuss the implications of energy data.

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