Some people might feel that Google knows quite enough about them already. But for those that aren’t too bothered, the company has now signed up utility firms to offer smart monitoring of domestic power usage.
Google announced the technology back in March – without any partners. But from next month, customers of First Utility – a small British provider of gas and electricity to 25,000 households – will be able to monitor their utilities remotely from a cellphone or laptop.
The PowerMeter gathers information on usage and sends it to the utility company every half hour for electricity and once a day for gas. The utility company forwards it to Google, which then sends it to the customer.
Householders can click on a graph to check electricity usage on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis – or torture themselves by monitoring exactly what they’re spending each hour.
Users will get the smart meter and service free, in return for signing up for a two-year contract.
Google has also signed a smilar deal with Yello Strom, a German utility company, which is offering the PowerMeter to its 1.4 million customers. “When people know exactly what is going on with their energy usage, they can use energy efficiently without sacrificing convenience,” said Yello Strom, executive director Martin Vesper.Google is pushing the US Department of Energy to support ‘smart grid’ technology. Back in March, Edward Lu, Advanced Projects Program Manager told a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: “we must develop and deploy smart grid technology in a manner that empowers consumers with greater information, tools and choices about how they use electricity, including access to real-time energy information.”
Guess what? Google says “Google PowerMeter is a project of Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm.”