Google talks a lot about alternative energy and promoting the adoption of a green lifestyle as part of the company's "do no evil" policy. Google has been working hard both on the power front, investing in promising alternative energy startups, and on the consumer front, releasing Google PowerMeter, a unique Google Gadget that lets users track their home power consumption.
However, many dismissed the new widget as useless as it relied on "smart meters", special power meters which could communicate it. After all, there were no such meters at the time.
Undeterred, Google went out and solved this problem and has now announced a number of initial smart meter partners, including San Diego Gas & Electric (California), TXU Energy (Texas), JEA (Florida), Reliance Energy (India), Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (Wisconsin), White River Valley Electric Cooperative (Missouri), Toronto Hydro–Electric System Limited (Canada), Glasgow EPB (Kentucky).
The utility partners are a picture of diversity, covering three different countries. Google engineer Ed Lu describes, "Our initial partners include utilities with millions of customers as well as smaller ones. They are rural and urban, privately held and municipally run... They all have one thing in common — a desire to serve their customers by providing access to detailed information that helps save energy and money."
The only bad news is that for now, the deployment will be limited to a small group of customers with each utility. Google and its partners plan to ramp up their efforts, though, after testing.
Google has also partnered with hardware manufacturer Itron, a leading make of power meter that serves over 8,000 utilities, also providing data management services. The company will begin putting Google's technology in some of its new power meters.
At a trivial cost, communications with appliances -- washers, driers, dishwashers, refrigerators, and microwaves -- could be relayed to the meter. As more data sources pour in and more partners jump aboard, this could become another big project at Google. After all, most would be happy to save the environment if they could save money while doing it and avoid major hassles -- and that's exactly what Google's PowerMeter helps customers achieve.
To check out the program yourself go here.