Photo via Marcin Wichary via Flickr CC
Google's PowerMeter tool is taking a bite out of the slow progress we're making toward a smart grid by jumping over utilities that move at the speed-of-molasses and putting energy data in front of users right away, including creating an easy-to-use energy monitoring platform and partnering with home power monitor companies like The Energy Detective. They've just made another smart move to speed things along by opening up their application programming interface (API) so that developers can start creating tools to interface with PowerMeter. Now developers can create devices and tools that can talk to PowerMeter, making it that much easier to have a whole-house energy monitoring system for a much lower cost, and much sooner than if we wait for a fully developed smart grid to provide it. Information security is a big factor behind smart grid data. Earth2Tech reports, "[Srikanth Rajagopalan, PowerMeter Product Manager] tells me that Google has put a strong emphasis on security and privacy into the API. For example, there are specific steps for authorizing a home energy device so that it can "talk" to Google PowerMeter. The device makers will also need to educate the end user on how to feel comfortable with connecting the energy data with third parties like PowerMeter, said Rajagopalan."
There's a rapidly growing number of companies moving into the smart grid scene and working on tools that provide consumers with information about their energy consumption. However, Google's massive presence and existing accessibility help it to make fast progress - much faster than a start up could hope to do on its own. More companies are also opening up their API to developers, including Microsoft's Hohm and Tendril. This means more opportunity for creative thinking from third party developers combined with the strengths of established companies.
The hope is that we will all have access to smart home energy management quickly, with reliable tools, and with the ability to use these tools to advance toward a nation-wide smart grid more smoothly than we might otherwise be able to do. Utilities need to have the software and hardware proven to them before they're willing to adopt it - this move by Google (who is already getting utilities on board) and others may help with the vetting of technologies so that utilities will get more active in smart grid progress. It's still a slow process over all - the smart gird is a huge and complex development - but anything companies can do to make advancements and put the information in front of consumers, the better.
More on Google's PowerMeter and Home Energy Management Tools
PG&E; Turns Away from PowerMeter, Hohm and Others In Favor of Open Smart Grid Standards
Google PowerMeter Announces First Energy Partners for PowerMeter
Google's PowerMeter Partners With The Energy Detective For First Gadget
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