Utility Xcel Energy and OPower want to see if community shame is an effective deterrent in Minnesota.
The two will randomly select 50,000 homeowners to participate in a Home Energy Reporting program in the St. Paul area. Under the program, the homeowners will get detailed information about their gas and electricity consumption. 35,000 will also get reports with their monthly bill. Along with telling consumers how much energy they consume, they will get tips on how to cut down their energy consumption and how well they do compared to similar households.
Major violators won't get a scarlet A tacked to their front door, but OPower hopes that the information encourages consumers to think more about energy consumption. In December OPower started a program in which power consumption for household heat can be studied separately from other energy demands. OPower says about 85 percent of customers will cut their power consumption by around 3.5 percent.
Meanwhile, Verizon and Ambient will work together on developing an Open Smart Grid Communications Architecture (OSGCA to his friends) for effectively developing smart grid services that run on standards-based IP networks. Over the last 18 months, traditional carriers such as AT&T and Verizon have flexed their muscles to exploit their networks for energy management services.
ADT, the alarm people, could be next, speculates Mike Dauber at Battery Ventures. (It came up at a breakfast meeting that had nothing to do with this announcement.). the company already has a connection into homes and charges for monthly services. Tacking on energy management would involve an incremental cost--the network and billing relationships already exist.
Finally, no one can stop Steve Chu from reaching for the checkbook. Today the Department of Energy announced $80 million in biofuel grants. $44 million of the total goes to the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts to study algae. Another $33.8 million went to the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium for biomass-to-liquid fuels.
And, as Josh Becker, California Assembly candidate, partner at NewCycle Capital and OPower investor points out, don't just get up and leave lunch at your next conference. If there's a gold star underneath the plate, you might qualify for ARRA grants too.