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White House Announces Nine Additional Committments to Green Button Initiative

Future of Privacy Forum praises the new transparency measure.

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White House Announces Nine Additional Committments to Green Button Initiative
[ Technology]

The White House announced today that nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will commit to the Green Button Initiative, a recent industry-led initiative that provides millions of households easy access to data about their energy use. Participants will be able to access secure, easy-to-understand information about their household energy use via computer or smart phone, simply by clicking an online “Green Button.”

Suppliers making new committments today join ranks of six previously announced commitments. In total, 27 million homes will be served by these companies. Utilities and electricity suppliers who announcing their commitment to the initiative today include:

  • American Electric Power, serving 5.3 million customers in 11 states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia);
  • Austin Energy, serving 400,000 customers in Texas;
  • Baltimore Gas and Electric, serving 1.2 million customers in Maryland;
  • CenterPoint Energy, serving 1.8 million households in Texas;
  • Commonwealth Edison, serving 3.4 million households in Illinois;
  • NSTAR, serving 1.1 million households in Massachusetts;
  • PECO, serving 1.4 million households in Pennsylvania;
  • Reliant, serving 500,000 households in Texas;
  • Virginia Dominion Power, serving 2.4 million customers in Virginia and North Carolina.

The Green Button Initiative was launched in January, following a White House call to action for utilities to provide their customers digital access to energy usage information. It was modeled upon Blue Button Data, a plan enabling consumers to access, download, and print copies of their health records at a single website, with the goal of helping consumers manage their health records and facilitating the transfer of their health records to new medical services. Green Button aims to empower consumers to make smart decisions about their energy use, and to provide them with tools that will help them pare down their utilities bills — keeping money in their pockets and helping reduce national energy consumption. It’s a part of the White House’s “all-of-the-above” strategy for reducing consumer energy costs and conserving natural resources.

In addition to the private sector commitments to join Green Button, leading Federal agencies including the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology will promote additional tech-based resource-saving initiatives including a contest to spur the development of energy-conservation apps, an online map tracking the progress of utilities in providing transparency to their customers, and technical assistance to industry members wishing to implement the Green Button Initiative.

“Green Button will arm millions of Americans with information they can use to lower their energy bills,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Innovative tools like these are good for our economy, good for the health of our communities, and an essential part of our approach toward a secure and clean energy future that works for Americans.”

The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, responded enthusiastically to today’s White House announcement. It praises the move toward data transparency that the Green Button Initiative promotes.

“Offering consumers access to their data provides the kind of transparency that enhances privacy,” said FPF Director and Co-Chair Jules Polonetsky, “By showing consumers the details of energy usage data, utilities are taking an important step to ensure that smart meters are a key benefit intended to help consumers be smarter about energy use.”

“With appropriate privacy programs in place, access to data will increasingly empower consumers to use their data to manage smart home devices that will advance innovation and consumer control.”

[Main Image Source: Ars Technica]

White House Announces Nine Additional Committments to Green Button Initiative
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