Drawing Inspiration on Smart Grid Innovation from America’s Youth

Last week, I met two high school students who compelled their school to measure energy usage and—wouldn’t you know—empowered with this information, the school was able to realize a 13 percent energy reduction and a 250 percent return on investment

These two young women, Shreya Indukuri and Daniela Lapidous, high school juniors at the Harker Upper School in San Jose, California, convinced their school administration to adopt simple off-the-shelf sub-metering technology which helped the school discover that the air conditioning switched on in the gymnasium each night.

Sparked by the ease at which such savings can be achieved, Shreya and Daniela founded their own non-profit organization, SmartPowerEd, which helps other schools in the Bay Area to save energy and money.   

My colleagues and I, as part of the National Science and Technology Council’s Smart Grid Subcommittee, have been engaged on these issues over the last year. Consistent with the President’s commitment to an open government, members of the Subcommittee have reached out to over 100 stakeholders to better understand how the Federal Government can collaborate with partners across the country and set policies to make America’s electric grid smarter. Our outreach efforts have also included Department of Energy Requests for Information and a collaborative blog facilitated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

In fact, two weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting a coalition to discuss how the deployment of smart grid and smart building technologies can foster innovation in the energy sector, reduce energy waste, and help consumers save money on their electricity bills.  At the meeting, participants emphasized the energy saving potential of enabling electronic access to energy data for all homes and buildings, including examples of how consumers are benefiting through a number of pilot programs around the country.  The comments shared during this meeting will help inform our ongoing efforts to provide policy recommendations and guidance for development of the Administration’s Smart Grid policy.  We also asked members of this group, as we have of other such groups, what efforts they were taking—like the students at SmartPowerEd—to enable consumers to use energy more efficiently. 

Enabling greater levels of energy efficiency is part of why making America’s electric grid smarter is an important part of the President’s vision for a clean energy economy and is a critical part of our Nation’s ability to “out innovate” the global competition on energy technologies while helping Americans keep money in their pockets by lowering electricity bills.

Thanks for all of the input.  Stay tuned for more.

Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer

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