Google.org is giving $2.65m to the Energy Foundation, a US lobby group that promotes the transition to sustainable energy through energy efficiency and renewable energy. (Google.org is the arm of the company that develops technologies to help address some global challenges and provides grants and other funding to partners).
The Energy Foundation grant will go towards supporting policy reforms leading to more intelligent energy use in three main areas:
Smarter electricity rates that encourage consumers to be more efficient, shift their electricity use to times when it’s cheaper and produce their own on-site energy.
Access to electricity markets for consumers and other businesses so they can be compensated for cutting energy use at key times.
Open data policies that give customers access to their own energy data, which they can use or share with third parties they select, promoting better energy management tools and services.
The aim is that these policy changes can help consumers make smarter energy choices, improve real-time management of the electricity grid, and enable more renewable energy production, all while lowering overall costs.
Review: It has always been my view that consumers need to see real financial benefits from smart meters and smart grids if they’re going to be a success. That means not just a good view on energy use, which, in most cases, is all that’s being promised at the moment, but also differential pricing, allowing consumer decisions on energy use and timing that have real financial benefits. It’s good to see any large corporation supporting moves in this direction and heartening that in this case the initiative comes from a major IT player.
The other interesting thing here is that an IT company is actively supporting lobbying, something that many often will not contemplate. Even though a lot of ICT players make the right noises, most are very limited in indirect, let alone direct, lobbying.