(Updated August 2018 )
Green Button is a promising initiative, one that would allow every home in the U.S. to easily get their own utility data. As the name implies, a consumer would simply click the Green Button, get their utility usage information and be ready to make smart energy decisions
But in fact, Green Button data is not always available. And even when in place, it is confusing. Consumers cannot easily share their utility data with solar installers and home performance companies. It’s hard for consumers to buy energy-smart when they have trouble getting their data.
As one analyst said, “If I can buy an airline ticket for thousands of dollars with a simple credit card swipe, why is getting my utility data so hard?”
So where is the gap between the vision and reality? WattzOn has identified three key frictions:
- Just A Few Implementations: Only 35 out of 2,000+ electric and gas utilities in the U.S. have signed up for Green Button. And, of those that have “signed up,” only ten or so have actually implemented Green Button. For utilities, Green Button enables the cleantech ecosystem (aka competitors) to reach consumers with personalized offers. So utilities often raise concerns about data privacy. We note that the financial services sector has easier consumer data access, even when sending around information that is more sensitive than 15-minute electricity usage data.
- A Complicated User Experience: Far from being just a push of the button, the actual user experience involves: logging in to a utility website…finding the right screen…setting the right parameters…clicking the green button..finding the file on the hard drive and then…finally, sending it to the service provider via email. Whew! Some utilities also don’t let consumers get access to their usage interval data until they sign up for ebilling. This process is frustrating for everyone, even computer mavens. And often it can’t be done on a mobile phone, which is not just a matter of convenience but one of equal access. (Low-income families often have mobile phone access but not desktop internet access.)
- Every Green Button is Different: A part of the overall vision, Green Button Connect is intended to enable speedy and secure data access from the utility to authorized service providers. While a standard is emerging, at this time every single implementation of Green Button and Green Button Connect are different. Service providers are left with a patchwork of solutions, especially if they operate in multiple service territories.
Over time, uniform implementations and a complete standard for Green Button will emerge. But meanwhile, business can’t wait. WattzOn’s solution is ready to go.
WattzOn is a proud member of the Green Button Alliance and was a featured Green Button user at the first White House Energy Data Palooza. In 2012 WattzOn was awarded a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) for consumer insights from smart meter data, part of a DOE effort to spur adoption of smart meters and Green Button access.
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