PowerMeter and Energy Efficiency

Written By Nick Hodge

Posted November 25, 2009

Google is a modern day deity. And I believe the pages of history will document the prominent gods as such: Apollo… Zeus… Google.

The company quickly grew from start-up obscurity into a search giant. It’s cornered e-mail with gmail. It has a web browser. Google Wave is all the rage. An operating system is coming soon. And, oh yeah, they have a solid candidate in the wireless phone arena, as well.

On its path to dominance, Google has left many stalwarts trembling in its wake. Microsoft and venerable wireless companies like AT&T and Sprint now see Google as a major competitor.

Now, you can add electric utilities to that list. And I heard it first-hand from one of Google’s top players last week in Silicon Valley.

Just Google It

Ed Lu, a Manager of Advanced Projects at the search giant, tried to play down Google’s interest in entering the utility business…

clearly, we aren’t going to generate or distribute power. Utilities are good at that. We are good at reaching lots of customers and we think this is where we can help — we can help utilities reach customers and customers to monitor their energy usage.

Still, everyone in the audience at GreenBeat 2009 got a good chuckle out of Lu’s dismissive approach.

After all, the company said the same thing about cell phones before they announced their Android phone, now a bestseller.

At the heart of the matter is Google’s new app, called PowerMeter. If you haven’t had the chance to read up on this gem of a platform, here’s a summary:

Google PowerMeter is a free electricity usage monitoring tool that provides you with information on how much energy your home is consuming. Google PowerMeter receives information from utility smart meters and in-home energy management devices and visualizes this information for you on iGoogle (your personalized Google homepage). And, Google PowerMeter is free.

So all you need is a Google account (you probably already have one), and an approved device to sign up. Then you’ll see a screen like the one below on a personal webpage, perhaps even on the same page as your gmail or search window:

Google Powermeter
Pretty cool, huh?

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Scale the Ways…

Do you see what’s going on here? Google is about to leverage its Internet ubiquity to enter the energy efficiency market.

And as with phones, they already have the scale to do it.

Think about it… How many times a day do you go to your utility website? And how many times a day do visit Google.com?


Google is about to lead its hundreds of millions of followers right down the efficiency path.

As Lu put it, "If you make one house energy efficient, so what? If you make 100 million homes energy efficient — now you’re talking."

And Google already has the scale to do this.

How Can We Profit?

At the conference, billionaire after billionaire took the stage to sing the praises of energy efficiency embodied in the smart grid.

From John Doerr to Vinod Khosla to Steve Westly, I heard several times that this industry will be "several times bigger than the Internet."

But Google isn’t the way to play it.

In fact, Google isn’t even in it for a profit, but they’ll buoy dozens of companies that are. In the Q&A section of Lu’s talk, he revealed that PowerMeter is an endeavor being pursued by Google.org, not Google.com.

So, according to Lu, the success of PowerMeter won’t be measured in financial terms, but in whether or not it helps save a "socially relevant amount of energy."

Investors can profit by investing in the companies now hotly pursuing PowerMeter-compatible devices.

The first device approved by Google — The Energy Detective (TED) 5000 made by Energy, Inc. — is already on backorder. Here’s the message you get when you try to buy it online:

TED 5000

So far, TED is the only approved PowerMeter-enabled device in the U.S. But I expect dozens more, as Google ramps up its efforts to include millions of customers.

You’ve already seen how overwhelming the response will be. Just wait until public companies are providing these devices…

PowerMeter approval will be a license to print money. And I’ve been elbows deep in research trying to find out who’s bringing the next devices to market.

It’s all part of the multi-billion smart grid investment opportunity I’ve been telling you about. And getting in now puts you in the same category with legendary venture capitalists who are looking for similar opportunities.

This new report outlines several ways you can profit from the mass deployment of the smart grid.

And of course, I’ll be chronicling any updates in these pages as they happen.

Call it like you see it,

Nick Hodge


P.S.  As soon as a company gets approved for Google PowerMeter compatibility, I’ll be sure to pass the info along to readers of the Alternative Energy Speculator.  They’ve become accustomed to easy profits from the smart grid, and Google’s involvement is only making it easier. 

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