Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Google's PowerMeter needs data!

Google's PowerMeter weaknesses are finally being examined. As I described in my earlier post, smart meter data is the critical success factor for any energy management system. Unfortunately, smart meters are nowhere near ubiquitous and will not be for many, many years. The United Kingdom just made news by setting a 2020 target for smart meter deployment in all homes. This target is considered quite bold. Google is now more publicly acknowledging the lack of smart meter data problem.

In an interview at the Green:Net Conference, Google's Tom Sly claimed that "best-case" PowerMeter would be ready by the end of this year however he also indicated that they were working with device manufacturers, "to produce something that can mimic a smart meter to work with PowerMeter and give the consumer enough data to help them modify their behavior." As I predicted, requiring consumers to purchase a device to "mimic a smart meter" will greatly reduce the adoption of PowerMeter.

As for the second approach, getting household data from utility companies directly, well that too looks problematic.'s Katie Fehrenbacher reports that, "Some utilities have indicated to us that they’ve been uncomfortable with the fact that Google is building software and web tools for energy management and smart meters called PowerMeter. In their eyes, Google’s strong brand could dominate their relationship with the customer." I believe this understates the really feelings of most utility companies.

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