Ed Lu, the former astronaut who now works as a program manager for advanced projects at Google, says that Google does not see PowerMeter, the software it created for monitoring energy in your home, as a way to make money.
"We are not trying to build a business model around it," he said.
The project comes out of Google.org, the company's philanthropic arm, so Lu gets rated on things other than profit, he explained to an audience at Greenbeat taking place in San Mateo. Data collected through PowerMeter is yours to keep. "Customers should control it. They can delete it," he said.
Saying things that people don't have to take seriously is one of the hallmarks of success in corporate America. Apple, Intel, Microsoft, General Motors have all at one point in their histories enjoyed the gift of ludicrous shamelessness. (Disclosure: I used Google for adjectives.)
Lu, though, did make a good point. Google has helped popularize some energy management products. The Energy Detective, a device for managing power from a South Carolina company, has been selling devices for a while. It suddenly sold out after it partnered with Google and Google mentioned the company on its blogs. More companies will support PowerMeter, he added. Ideally, companies will be able to adopt PowerMeter without even having to talk to a human at Google.
But the good-as-business goal does raise some interesting conflicts. Tendril has a tested and highly rated energy management system. Tendril, however, is not part of Google's PowerMeter alliance. Why not promote them anyway? Why not promote Microsoft's Hohm? Good of humanity and all.