A new non-profit organization, Grid 21, has launched a national campaign to educate electric customers on how to get the most out of their smart meters. Grid 21’s mission is to encourage consumers to use smart meters and other emerging tools and technologies to better understand and manage their electric use.
Grid 21 started its Biggest Energy Saver Campaign June 13, the same day that U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the number of smart meters installed nationwide exceeded the five million mark.
The campaign aims to educate consumers about controlling energy consumption and energy costs, give them easy ways to access and use data from smart meters and help jumpstart the market for energy management tools. The campaign will feature a customer-savings contest designed to demonstrate how information from smart meters can help people save energy and save money off monthly electric bills.
The campaign will also feature a nationwide call for developers to create applications that will allow consumers to more effectively control their home energy use. Developers will be competing for prizes totaling up to $150,000. In Texas, for example, one grand prize winner from each participating utility’s service area will be awarded a new electric vehicle, while first-place winners will be awarded a suite of GE smart appliances that can talk to smart meters and provide feedback on energy consumption.
“There have been dozens of pilot programs involving smart meters across the United States, and consistently customers have reduced their energy usage and controlled their costs. Now the time has come to move beyond pilot programs and into full implementation because customers deserve it,” said Steve Hauser, Executive Director of Grid 21.
“Customers are the most important component of any business and what electric utility customers are telling us is that they want the ability to better manage their energy consumption and cost,” Hauser said. “The Biggest Energy Saver will introduce tools and capabilities to customers who can then use them for the contest and in their daily lives.”
The Biggest Energy Saver contest will run this summer. More information, including contest rules and registration, will be available beginning mid-July on the Biggest Energy Saver website, www.BiggestEnergySaver.com. The website also offers information on how to use smart meters to save energy and save money.
Founding partners of Grid 21’s Biggest Energy Saver Campaign include Texas-based utilities Oncor and CenterPoint Energy, California-based utility San Diego Gas & Electric, Itron and Landis+Gyr. IBM is also collaborating with Grid 21 on the campaign.
Texas and California are the largest smart meter markets in the country. Of the five million smart meters currently installed nationwide, over three million of them are in Texas. And in May, San Diego Gas & Electric completed a rollout of smart meters to all of its residential customers. By the end of 2012, more than 20 million smart meters are expected to be installed in California and Texas alone.
“Technology Companies and Utilities Launch Campaign to Spur Innovation and Empower Customers,” CenterPoint Energy press release, June 13, 2011.