Building a Strong, Lasting Economy With Energy Innovation

Today, President Obama is in Nevada, Colorado, and Michigan to discuss the Administration’s commitment to energy innovation and advanced manufacturing.  Part of that commitment includes a focus on getting new energy technologies from lab to market, to transform new ideas into new jobs.  In that spirit, the Department of Energy announced today the voting stage of “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” challenge – an initiative that aims to unleash America's entrepreneurs and innovators to create new businesses based on discoveries made by our world-leading national laboratories.

Energy innovation also includes the use of information and mobile technologies to accelerate clean technologies and resource-efficient business models – what some are calling the “cleanweb.”  Last week, we joined with utility and technology executives to announce the launch of “Green Button” – giving millions of Americans the capability to securely download their own household detailed energy use.  With Green Button, third-party innovators can develop applications and tools to help electricity customers manage their energy use – giving Americans new opportunities to shrink utility bills.

Green Button was made possible by the electric utility industry’s voluntary adoption of an open data standard, which promises to provide “rocket fuel” for a wide range of new and compelling energy apps.  It’s only been a week since the Button was launched, but we’ve seen a number of exciting developments already:

  • The North American Energy Standards Board – the industry standards group that developed the standard behind Green Button – announced it would launch a web site and tool kit for entrepreneurs and other interested parties that want to design Green Button applications.
  • In one of several open government events held last weekend, software developers at the Cleanweb Hackathon in NYC developed and showcased several prototype apps that can use Green Button data in new and compelling ways – including an app that helps customers choose the utility rate plan that’s best for them, and an app that helps consumers make informed solar panel decisions.
  • A number of electric utilities (beyond the initial three—Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric) announced their intent to adopt Green Button in 2012 – including Oncor, Pepco Holdings Inc., and Glendale Water and Power.
  • A number of technology partners pledged to support Green Button across their utility customer base – including Tendril, Aclara, OPower, and others – so that electricity customers in more than 20 states will have access to their own energy usage information in 2012.
  • Administration officials and industry executives discussed Green Button on a recent webinar, to share best practices and empower local regulators, utilities, and consumers advocates across the country.

Energy innovation – seeded by R&D investments, protected by high-quality patents, commercialized by entrepreneurs, and fueled by open standards – is key to winning the future and ensuring we have an economy that is built to last.

Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Nick Sinai is the Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer

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