Basically, the PowerMeter software uses data from smart meters or electricity monitors and displays it in easily understandable form on a PC or a smart phone. Like all such devices, the theory is that by seeing how power is being used people tend to take action to reduce it.
In the CNET article Dan Reicher, director of climate change initiatives at Google, said that "We're just getting going. We're starting with electricity and we're interested in moving on to natural gas and other utilities [such as water] in the home,"
Reicher also said that Google is working on "demand dispatch", which is the way that software and the Internet can be used to act as a go-between for home users and the grid to keep a balance of supply and demand. This is one of the much talked about advantages of smart grids, particularly when connected to renewable energy resources. Home users can be incentivised to use electricity more efficiently through things like differential pricing.
• The use of Powermeter has also cropped up in what is described as the first smart grid white spaces network trial in the US. Spectrum Bridge is working with Plumas‐Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative and Google to demonstrate how TV white spaces (unused TV broadcast channels) can be used for smart grid technologies.
The TV channels have become available in the US as part of the move to digital TV and the FCC has said they are suitable for wireless data networks and broadband connectivity.
The applications deployed for the trial deliver real‐time broadband connectivity to remote substations and switchgear so that the electrical system can be managed remotely. In addition, Google’s PowerMeter technology has been deployed so that consumers can view real‐time detailed energy consumption data from anywhere, online.