Just in time for the Copenhagen climate summit, Google (GOOG) is pushing the new PowerMeter software developed by the company's foundation, Google.org.
The search company describes the tool by saying "Google PowerMeter is a free electricity usage monitoring tool that provides you with information on how much energy your home is consuming. Google PowerMeter receives information from utility smart meters and in-home energy management devices and visualizes this information for you on iGoogle (your personalized Google homepage). " Like most Google software, the product can be downloaded for free.
The Wall Street Journal points out that the product has some drawbacks. Broad use of the PowerMeter may not be possible for several years. "Roughly 10 utilities in the U.S., Canada and India have so far signed on as PowerMeter partners," the paper writes. That leaves a lot of energy firms that have not created systems that will work with the software.
But the pressure to "go green" which is effecting both consumers and large businesses may push the adoption of the Google project forward. Most people would like to save energy, if only to bring down their costs. Utilities are under growing government pressure to conserve energy as a means of bringing down customer costs and improving the environment. If PowerMeter is downloaded by millions of people, the pressure on energy providers will only increase.
Google has produced a lot of software, some of it of dubious value. PowerMeter may actually make a meaningful contribution to the greening of America.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.