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Google PowerMeter Shutdown. What next for Energy Information management?

Google has been in the news a lot in the last few days. The news about Google most people are interested in though is the antitrust investigation. Less mention is being given to the announcement made on the Google blog about the shutdown of Powermeter and Google Health. The Powermeter shutdown is one we at Power2Switch are very interested in due to our desire to see customer gain access to their energy usage.

What is/was Google Powermeter? it started as a Google.org project to raise awareness about the importance of giving people access to data surrounding their energy usage.

Why is Google shutting down Powermeter? The reason provided in the blog post is that the adoption numbers expected are not being seen. In a blog post on Gigaom in Feb 2010 adoption was at just a few thousand customers. Outside of the also obvious reason that Google need to focus on doing a few things very well (something Sergey Brin is working on) this reason rings true. The implication, from the blog post, that greater access to more information is what people need(ed) to adopt the product is where I think Google failed; people don’t want more information, people want better information.

What is the impact of this shutdown? Sadly for the energy information management space the shutdown will have little impact despite the fact a heavyweight like Google got into the game; higher adoption numbers would have indicated that there was value being provided but customers are not waking up thinking about their energy usage (I do know a few who do…). And the approach of going through utilities to reach the customers was wrong. Customers think of their utility as the big company that does not care about them, not the partner Google was trying to be to the customers.

What next? Customers who had access to Powermeter can use the tool and download their information till September 16, 2011. For these users keep your eye on Power2Switch we’re working on a few things to ease these issues (we’ve even reached out to Google. For companies that relied on Google Powermeter the lesson here is to not bank on the ‘big company’ but focus on the value you’re providing to the end user (in this case the customer who’s energy usage is actually being monitored).

For everyone else? Pay more attention to your energy usage, it’s actually kind of a big deal how much energy we waste as individuals.

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