OwnerJuly 2015 to presentEl Cerrito

Finding best available technologies for meeting energy needs today and tomorrow: energy efficiency, demand response,, solar, wind, electric vehicles, biofuels and smart grid. It’s all the innovations that make the energy we use more secure, clean, and affordable. The energy world's best hopes lie in what's happening in the digital realm, especially in data analytics.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Green Button

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1. Background

2. Acronyms/Definitions
3. Business Case
4. Benefits
5. Risks/Issues
6. Success Criteria
7. Apps for Energy Challenge
8. Companies/Organizations
9. Links

  • In September 2011, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra challenged utilities across the country to develop a “Green Button”—detailed customer usage information available for download in a simple, common format.
  • Green Button is an industry-led effort that responds to a White House call-to-action to provide consumers with easy-to-understand data about their household energy use. At today’s event, nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will sign on to the initiative, committing to provide more than 15 million households secure access to their energy data with a simple click of an online Green Button. That builds on similar commitments made by utilities in January to provide Green Button capability to nearly 12 million households this year. With that information in hand, consumers can take advantage of a growing array of online services that can help them manage energy use and save on their bills.

  • As part of the Phase I of NIST’s Smart Grid three-phase-plan, NIST and its contractor EPRI led a series of workshops to identify key standards of the Smart Grid, and importantly, to identify critical gaps in the coverage of standards. Among the most prominent, one such gap identified the need for standardized Energy Usage Information to inform the consumer. Thus one of the first “Priority Action Plans (PAPs)” created was PAP10: Standard Energy Usage Information”.
    Here is the charter abstract of that plan:
    “Customers will benefit from standardized energy usage information that enables them to make better decisions and take other actions consistent with the goals of Sections 1301 and 1305 of EISA. An understanding of energy usage informs better decisions about energy use and conservation, and is the basis for performance feedback on the operation of customer owned energy management systems and understanding device energy usage and management.”

2. Acronyms/Definitions
  1. Blue Button - An inspiration for Green Button.   A patient is provided with a highly visible, clickable button to download his or her medical records in digital form from a secure website offered by their doctors, insurers, pharmacies or other health-related service. People can log into this secure website to view and have the option to download their health information, so they can examine it, check it, and share it with their doctors and others as they see fit. The Blue Button download capability is a tool that can help individuals get access to their information so they can more effectively participate in and manage their health and health care.

    Over six million veterans who receive health care from VA can already download their personal health data using the Blue Button. We want to be sure the 17 million veterans who receive care from non-VA doctors and hospitals can do the same.

    — Eric K. Shinseki VA Secretary
  2. ESPI - Energy Service Provider Interface -
  3. EUI - Energy Usage Information -
    Sources and Uses of EUI Courtsey: NIST

  4. NAESB ESPI - North American Energy Standards Board Energy Service Provider Interface- Standard that satisfies the requirements laid out in OpenADE and incorporates the data model from NAESB PAP 10 Energy Usage Information

3. Business Case
  • Through the Green Button, customers can download their personal data and send the file to any third party they choose. Previously that option wasn’t available.
  • Customers will benefit from standardized energy usage information that enables them to make better decisions and take other actions consistent with the goals of Sections 1301 and 1305 of EISA. An understanding of energy usage informs better decisions about energy use and conservation, and is the basis for performance feedback on the operation of customer owned energy management systems and understanding device energy usage and management.
  • There are three main classifications of this information:
    • Identification – this identifies the source of the information including how it was acquired. Also note that in some applications of the availability of Energy Usage Information (EUI) this identification information is kept separate from the rest because it can contain privacy-sensitive information.
    • Summary Information – this contains the summary of usage from the current period to date and some references for comparison. One might envision that this represents the current level of detail available to consumers through their energy bills.
    • Measure Component – here are the details of actual minute by minute / hour by hour / day by day usage of energy. This component is designed so that it can represent any set of measurements from watt-hours to watts to volt-amp-reactive to related measurements such as voltage and even temperature if necessary. Of course, the most common content will be watt-hours.
  • There are two options for file downloads:
    • The first option is a CSV (Comma Separated Value) file which you can use to review your usage and is a format you can read. Your data can be downloaded on any operating system that supports CSV.
    • The second option is an XML (Extensible Markup Language) file which is a machine readable format.

Customer devices and their user interfaces that would be supported  by Green Button

4. Benefits
  • Innovation - Making this information available—in simple standard formats—will help spur innovative new consumer applications and devices from entrepreneurs, big companies, and even students.  A single interface allows robust applications to be developed
    Focus on value added rather than multiple custom interfaces per utility
  • Insight entrepreneur-created web portals to analyze usage and provide actionable tips;
  • Demand Management - Adoption of demand side management schemes will require consumer feedback and engagement to enable them to benefit. Many regulators are interested in ubiquitous low cost Green Button capabilities to enable consumer engagement and support return on investments.
  • Heating and Cooling: customizing thermostats for savings and comfort;
  • Education: community and student energy efficiency competitions;
  • Retrofits: improved decision-support tools to facilitate energy efficiency retrofits;
  • Verification: measurement of structural energy efficiency investments;
  • Real Estate: energy costs for tenants and/or new home purchasers; 
  • Solar: optimizing the size of rooftop solar panel

5. Risks/Issues
  • Consumer Interest - most people don’t care enough about their energy bills to do anything about them, a fact that’s borne out by competitors as well. Aclara, for example, has about 8 million utility customers with Web portals delivering them Green Button data, but only about 1 million of those customers actively engage with their portals today.

6. Success Criteria
  1. Getting more people to sign up for active, online participation with their energy use is the next step for startups and utilities.

  2. Three components to drive interoperability: Standards evolution, User Groups/Testing, Reference Implementations

7. Apps for Energy Challenge
  • A tsunami of Green Button applications is coming to an iPad, Android phone or computer near you, if you happen to be one of the 30 million or so Americans who has a utility that supports the Green Button initiative. The U.S. Department of Energy has a total of $100,000 up for grabs for the developers of some of the best apps, which will be judged in the coming weeks by a team of experts.  See their Apps for Energy Challenge Site  Public Voting is May 17 to May 31 and the winners will be announced June 6.

    One of the prizes is a popularity contest based on which app can get the most votes online. There are 55 apps in total, covering everything from assessing rooftop solar PV for your home to small business energy management applications.

    There is a range of applications, but there is also an overwhelming amount of overlap. The bulk of the apps allow people to upload their Green Button data to the application and view it in some shiny graph format. A lot of the functionalities, such as getting an alert if your bill or energy use goes over a certain threshold, are increasingly being offered directly through utilities. Also, it is important to note that the apps that are entered into the contest are not the entire suite of apps that leverage Green Button data.

    Most apps in the contest allow people to track overall usage, but a handful are focused squarely on vampire power, a term for energy use caused by appliances that are sucking standby power when they’re not in use. RemindMeGreen is an app that sends you a reminder to shut things down totally when they’re not in use. There’s also the literally named Exploring Background Energy Use that does just that.

    Watt@Home leverages Foursquare to build a profile of when you’re home and away to help you understand vampire power. Obviously it’s focused on the set of people that check in every time they get home, which leaves out a vast swath of the population (read: people over 30.)

    Peaktweak allows users to understand their peak usage and see where they can shift use. The app is useful in places where people might be considering peak pricing plans.

    But there are other small business apps, including BEST application, eEnergy Manager, Power Drop, Watt Ease and GEMS, the latter of which can help businesses evaluate energy efficiency upgrades and track energy use. The small business apps are some of the most focused on actionable information, rather than just presenting data.
  • The winners of  the first round of winners for the first-ever Apps for Energy competition were announced May 22  by Assistant Secretary for the Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability Patricia Hoffman at ConnectivityWeek, a gathering of smart grid industry leaders in Santa Clara, California. A diverse panel drawn from government and the energy and tech communities evaluated the apps.

    Location: Seattle, Washington

    This app is the brainchild of Seattle-based team, Timothy Edgar and Nathan Jhaveri who describe themselves as “two developers with an idea.” Their app submission, Leafully, helps utility customers visualize their Green Button data as a variety of units, such as the amount of trees needed to offset an individual’s energy usage. Leafully encourages users to set energy savings goals and to share their progress on Facebook.

    Location: Washington, DC

    DC-based startup Melon describes itself as the first company to utilize Green Button data to simplify the process of obtaining an ENERGY STAR benchmark for commercial buildings. The app uses Green Button to evaluate the energy performance of commercial buildings.

    Melon Power belongs to a group of apps that is zeroing in on small and medium commercial – an untapped market that could benefit the most from Green Button. Melon Power offers Energy Star benchmarking, the only app of its kind in the contest.

    Location: New York, NY

    Cleantech software and services company Zerofootprint’s VELObill app helps makes it easier for utility customers to view their energy usage, measure whether it is high or low, and compare it to that of their peers. With this information in hand, users can create an energy saving action plan tailored to their individual needs and preferences.

    VELObill looks to replace the utility bill experience, a worthy goal indeed. It is one of the few apps that clearly states that it will help people find the cost and payback of energy efficiency upgrades and then link you to a local contractor. How the contractors are vetted, however, is not clear from first glance at the app.

    Location: Irvine, CA

    The wotz app, submitted by a team from the University of California, Irvine, lets users explore and play with Green Button data. The app provides several games based on the "shape" of your data, and provides creative comparisons to illustrate your usage, like how many cheeseburgers worth of energy you used last Tuesday from 5-6 pm.

    Location: Cleveland, OH

    The Budget it Yourself app is a collaborative project from a team of students at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art. The app helps users track their energy usage and make energy-savings goals.

8. Companies/Organizations
  1. UCAIug - Utility Communications Architecture International Users Group. Includes OpenSG subcommittee The Users Group is working on many areas of interest for different users wherestandards bodies may not yet be active or where the interests of users goes beyond thepurview of the presently identified standards (such as the completion of users guides,industry education, transfer of technology, marketing support, identification of users needs and industry demonstrations to prove concepts).

  2. OpenADE, - UCAIug - Requirements specification for secure delivery of historical and ongoing usage information to 3rd Party

  3. OpenSG - Open Smart Grid  Subcommittee of the Utility Communication Architecture (UCA) International Users Group (UCAIug)

  4. SGIP PAP10  - NIST Smart Grid Collaboration Wiki  Smart Grid Interoperability Panel Site - PAP10: Standard Energy Usage Information

  5. ¨NAESB (North American Energy Standards Board) REQ18/WEQ19 PAP10 EUI standard adopted in December 2010
    This was an information model standard, a “seed standard”, for other standards to use

  6. EnergyOS - Open Source for Energy InfrastructureWeb Site:
    Mail List:

  7. Green Button Utilities and Energy Suppliers (From Green May 22, 20120
    Committed Implemented
    American Electric Power NSTAR
    Austin Energy PG&E
    Baltimore Gas & Electric Reliant
    CenterPoint Energy SDG&E
    Commonwealth Edison TXU Energy
    Glendale Water and Power
    Pepco Holdings
    PPL Electric Utilities
    Pacific Power
    Rocky Mountain Power
    Southern California Edison
    Virginia Dominion Power

    9. Links
    2. NIST - Green Button Initiative Artifacts Page 
    3. Green Button on Twitter
    5. NAESB Green Button Portal -

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