Canada Gets Serious About Home Energy

Solar power can’t really achieve full liftoff until its information is analyzed and understood. Ultimately, that means decentralization from any overlords, which is where the Green Button initiative comes in.

A partnership between Ontario’s Ministry of Energy and MaRS Discovery District, the Green Button initiative frees up its customers’ power consumption data so they can measure their home energy use and better achieve optimal efficiency in real-time, rather than crunch after-the-fact numbers on stacks of obsolete bills and statements. That necessary liberation also motivates clever developers to parse more and more valuable, important information with user-friendly apps. The next thing you know Canada has a smarter, more efficient grid, empowered by greener consumers.

“Ontario Power Authority spokesperson John Cannella told me via email that the Green Button initiative’s first phase, Download My Data, asked customers to click through their local utility websites to obtain their consumption data in standardized format. More utilities are coming on board, Cannella added, with their likely clunky websites in tow. But it is the Ministry’s Energy Apps for Ontario Challenge, launched in October and open for submission until January 7, that will likely encourage more creative smart data solutions.

“Green Button apps that are currently on the market, as well as apps under development, will enable analysis of smart meter data and provide concrete tools for customers to manage their electricity use,” Cannella said in an emailed statement. “Apps designed to address energy efficiency in homes and businesses can have a direct impact on utility bills and lead to environmental benefits through energy retrofits. In time, Green Button will evolve to incorporate new technologies and real time data, as many innovators and energy stakeholders in Ontario and across North America are working to make these opportunities possible.”

Cannella also suggests that homeowners and businesses participate in Ontario’s saveONenergy peaksaver PLUS program, launched in 2012, to obtain “real-time feedback on their energy use to they can conserve energy and save money on their electricity bills.”

As for the data’s own home, it remains centralized at the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) that manages consumption information for residential smart meters, Cannella explained. It’s been in good hands, if you will, given that Ontario has encouraged residential solar since its pioneering Feed-In-Tariff program, launched in 2009 after passage of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act. With streams fit for solar projects ranging from 10 to 5000kw, Ontario’s FITs are making net metering an everyday reality.

With initiatives like these, the smart data future feels like it may have a fighting chance against the accelerated climate change coming our way. Sharing information, as well as clean renewable energy power and authority, is the greatest weapon we have in our arsenal.

This article appeared at Solar Energy