With this information at their fingertips, consumers would be enabled to make more informed decisions about their energy use and, when coupled with opportunities to take action, empowered to more actively manage their energy use.

The concept of a Green Button—inspired by successes in getting Americans their own health care data, but developed by the energy industry in a consensus process and adopted voluntarily—builds on policy objectives in the Obama Administration's Blueprint For a Secure Energy Future and Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid to ensure that consumers have timely access to their own energy data in consumer-friendly and computer-friendly formats.

How to get your green button data

The newly launched Green Button Initiative asked utility companies to ensure that consumers have timely access to their own energy data in consumer-friendly and computer-friendly formats.  Now, California’s three major utilities, Pacific Gas & ElectricSouthern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, have launched their Green Buttons (we have also heard report from the US CTO that the Green Button will also be supported by Oncore and PEPCO). Along with easy access to uniform data, customers can easily provide their energy usage data to third parties who are developing applications and tools to help consumers manage their energy use.

Accessing your Green Button data is an easy four-step process. I’m using PG&E for my example.

  • First, you need to have an My Energy account and an electric SmartMeter™ connected to the network.

    • Simply Log in to My Energy or Sign up for an account, all you’ll need is the name on the account, account number and account type.
  • Once you’re logged in to My Energy click on the My Usage tab.

  • Click on the Green Button icon and select your download

  • Now you have access to your file.  Use it yourself or send it to a third party for customer-focused applications and your information is kept private until you choose to send it.

Customers can designate up to 13 months of data to be delivered in a single file. If the customer has not had a SmartMeter™ connected to the network for that long, then the customer can only download the amount of interval data since the transition.

Click here to see a quick tutorial video on uploading your data to Genability Explorer.

It’s a Start

While the Green Button is not a cure all, it is a major step in the right direction, but there is still some work to be done.  A few places we found that could use improvement:

  • Only certain SmartMeter™ customers can use the Green Button–solar customers serviced by PG&E can not receive data due to difference in billing systems.

  • The data is not in real-time– Green Button can only offer you yesterdays data by 5pm today, so there is a one day lag of information.

  • PG&E does not incorporate cost in the data they provide, but hey, it’s a start.

The real value can be seen in the wide range of mobile and web apps being developed by energy professional and developers, like the hackers at this weekend’s CleanWeb Hackathon in NYC, to help consumers manage their energy usage.