Google has announced the first partners for its PowerMeter software – a tool for analysing data collecting by smart meters.
TXU Energy and India’s Reliance Energy are the most notable of the eight utilities, but as Google notes, it’s quite a mixed group in terms of size and ownership. We’ve gathered the customer numbers for each utility – though this is as disclosed on their websites so methods of counting may vary:
San Diego Gas & Electricity – 1.4m residential and business accounts
TXU Energy: 2m customers
JEA: 360,000 customers
Reliance Energy: 25m consumers
Wisconsin Public Service: 488,000 regulated electric utility customers
White River Valley Electric Co-operative: Not immediately obvious (But is has the zaniest company website we’ve ever seen)
Toronto Hydro-Electric System: 684,000 customers
Glasgow EPB (Kentucky): Also not immediately obvious, but presumably small
Google is also partnering with Itron, a data and meter management company that serves nearly 8,000 utilities.
The benefits of monitoring one’s power usage have been widely studied and while it does create some reduction in overall power use, the bigger benefits appear to come from smoothing out power usage and thereby reducing the number of power stations that need to be built to handle high end loads. This however requires variable energy pricing.
On the other hand, Engadget complains that a whole-household view is too macro and that technology to monitor the consumption of each individual appliance would be more satisfying.