Electric Shock? Google's PowerMeter Tracks Energy Usage

Google's new application, PowerMeter, provides metrics on users' power consumption. PowerMeter integrates into the iGoogle platform, and users will be able to create a customized page that has simple, Web-based applications. The software will provide a detailed, realtime view of electricity-consuming devices.

PowerMeter is currently in beta with Google employees as the software testers. Many of them have posted their experiences on Google's site.

"By monitoring my energy use, I figured out that the bulk of my electricity [use] was caused by my two 20-year-old fridges, my incandescent lights and my pool pump, which was set to be on all the time," wrote Russ, a Google hardware engineer, who did not provide a last name. "By replacing the refrigerators with new energy-efficient models, the lights with CFLs and setting the pool pump to only run at specified intervals, I've saved $3,000 in the past year and I am on track to save even more this year!"

Google Monday submitted comments to the California Public Utility Commission, sharing its perspective that the general public should have access to their specific energy consumption information in near-realtime. It also offered ideas on how the commission could encourage the availability of this information. Among its suggestions: Consumers should have direct access in realtime to their own electricity usage and pricing information; access to usage and pricing information should be available at no direct cost to the consumer; and the data should be made available in a standardized, open format, freely available to third parties with permission from the consumer.

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