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Green Button Gives Millions of Consumers Access to Electricity Usage Information

Green Button App

In the 2012 State of the Union Address, President Obama called for an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.

As part of this strategy and his broader agenda to repair and modernize America’s infrastructure and create jobs, the President renewed his call for investments in clean energy. He proposed new incentives to spur energy innovation and eliminate energy waste, and called on Congress to set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. But we can’t wait for Congress to act.

That’s why the Administration is partnering with utilities, technology companies, and entrepreneurs across the country to support the launch of private-sector online tools that will enable American families and households to download their energy use information and help them save energy and money.

The Green Button is the common-sense idea that electricity customers should be able to securely download their own detailed household or building energy usage information from their utility website.

Armed with that information, consumers can use a growing array of new web and smartphone tools to make more informed energy decisions, optimize the size and cost-effectiveness of solar panels for their home, or verify that energy-efficiency retrofit investments are performing as promised. Consumers can even use fun innovative apps that allow individuals to compete against Facebook friends to save energy and lower their carbon emissions.

To date, nearly six million households in California, representing about 17 million electricity consumers, can use a Green Button to download their own detailed energy usage information with a simple click of a button. Utilities across the country—including those in Texas, Maryland, and Washington DC—that collectively serve an additional 11 million households, also plan to make the feature available later this year.

Green Button marks the beginning of a new era of consumer control over energy use, and local empowerment to cut waste and save money. And while the Administration challenged industry to create a Green Button, played an active convening role, and is providing technical assistance, Green Button is the voluntary adoption of an open industry standard.

Green Button was inspired by the successful launch of a similar tool, called Blue Button, that allows consumers to view their personal health data and print their personal health records for sharing with other doctors or others they trust. Today this service is available to 80 million Americans.

Developing innovative applications and services to help consumers understand and manage their energy use—and understand the environmental impacts of that usage—is a field ripe for American innovation. That’s why the Department of Energy is offering up to $8 million of funding and prizes to support this kind of innovation, and the EPA has held the first ever Apps for Environment contest.

Moving forward, Green Button has the potential to reach every American household and business. The Administration looks forward to continuing work with state regulators, communities, utilities, and businesses across the country as they think about how to best join this growing trend of empowering customers, spurring the energy information economy, and ensuring we have an American economy built to last.

For more information, go to the Green Button website.