Google’s Senior Policy Counsel for Energy and Sustainability Michael Terrell wrote yesterday about a $2.65 million grant that the company’s policy arm will be making to the Energy Foundation to support policy reforms around energy use. The foundation is focused on the U.S. and China and figuring out policy reforms that could reduce carbon emission. The money appears earmarked for three areas, per the post:
- Smarter electricity rates that encourage consumers to be more efficient, shift their electricity use to times when it’s cheaper and produce their own on-site energy;
- Access to electricity markets for consumers and other businesses so they can be compensated for cutting energy use at key times; and
- Open data policies that give customers access to their own energy data, which they can use or share with third parties they select, promoting better energy management tools and services.
So Google is showing some interest in peak pricing, demand response, and energy data applications. Hmmmm. Google’s billion dollars in green investments have, up to now, been largely focused on renewable energy generation with a lot of money directed at solar and wind power.
The company does have a small investment in smart grid networking company Silver Spring Networks. And given the fact that smart meter deployment is beginning to reach a tipping point where lots of energy data on electricity usage will become more available, I wonder if Google is exploring a renewed interest in energy data and whether the company has a role to play through further investments or some cloud based applications.
Google did launch a web based PowerMeter product in 2009 that it pulled the plug on in 2011. And over the next couple years we will be reaching a period where smart meter deployment is broader, the data is easier to access, utilities behave more openly, and it would be easier for Google to reach customers with a compelling product that could do all the things that its grant to the Energy Foundation hopes to do—help customers see their realtime energy use and historical patterns so they can shift their usage, benefit monetarily from demand response and explore 3rd party apps for managing their energy use.