Browner welcomes industry letter on energy information

9 April 2010
Carol Browner, Adviser to the US President on Climate and Energy, has welcomed a letter sent to President Obama calling for home energy information from 47 signatories including The Climate Group.
Speaking at an event in Washington DC yesterday, jointly hosted by The Climate Group and Google, Browner said: “The issue of the consumer’s right to know is important in this administration ... and we certainly share your commitment to giving consumers access to (information on) real-time energy use”.
In her keynote speech to assembled business and government leaders, Browner talked of renewed efforts by the Administration to develop comprehensive energy and climate legislation. She noted that this would lead to U.S. job creation and energy security as well as environmental benefits: “We need to create jobs. China gives certainty and predictability to businesses, and so far we are not providing that certainty for businesses in the US.”

Ahead of an expected Senate bill at the end of April, Browner added, “We need a cap on emissions. We are looking at a variety of tools to do energy-only bill would be unfortunate.”

Discussion during both panels touched on the need for further pilots to back up powerful anecdotal evidence that home energy information leads consumers to change their behavior and reduce their energy consumption.

Debate also centered around regulatory barriers existing in most US states that don’t create enough certainty for utilities to be able to invest in new energy efficiency services for consumers. The audience asked for a consumer advocate to be included in any future discussions.

Energy information will increasingly be visible to utilities and consumers. “We have an opportunity to get this right the first time”, noted Leslie Harris, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology. He went on to speak of the need to address questions about who owns the data, who has access to it and how should it be managed to benefit consumers.

Speakers on the panel discussions included Jason Few, President of Reliant Energy in Texas which is already providing services to their consumers such as a weekly email on energy consumption and time of use billing; Adrian Tuck, CEO of Tendril Networks, who works with ten US utilities to provide a range of ‘smart grid’ services to consumers; and Lorie Wigle, General Manger of Eco-technologies for Intel, the chip-maker who has recently piloted home energy management software.

Policy experts included Nick Sinai, who is responsible for the recent Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Plan that recognizes the need for real time energy information to enable energy efficiency and Tom Catania, Vice President of Government Relations at Whirlpool, who believes the smart grid will be led first by smart appliances that can be programmed by their owners to use power when it costs less.

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