White River Valley Electric Cooperative in Branson, Missouri, is one of eight electric utilities worldwide chosen by Google to test “Power Meter,” a gadget that allows consumers to monitor their electricity usage.
In 2000, White River Valley launched automatic meter reading (AMR) for its 42,000 consumer-members using Aclara; eight years later, the co-op has a fully-integrated AMR system that provides usage information on an hourly basis, making the utility a good candidate for the Google pilot project.
White River Valley had been exploring ways to use this data to educate members but had found the cost to be prohibitive. Members participating in the Google pilot program will be able to view their personal electricity consumption on a home computer at the best possible price: FREE!
Under the terms of this Beta test, the cooperative will send the hourly usage data for 25 members to Google, which will make that data available to the member via the desktop gadget. The program involves no additional hardware.
Robert Johnston, the Chief Technology Officer for White River Valley, says Google included the cooperative in the project because the co-op had compiled hourly usage information from its consumer-members for over a year and a half.
According to Johnston, this project was a natural for the cooperative. “As a member-owned cooperative, we are always striving to provide better service to our members through innovative uses of technology.” Johnston added, “As a result of our members having access to this information, they will be empowered to make smart energy decisions that will result in both energy and financial savings.”
Even as the pilot program moves forward, White River Valley is continuing to explore other methods for communicating usage information to members, including e-mail.