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The Obama administration has announced that nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will commit to providing more than 15 million households access to data about their energy usage by utilizing an online "Green Button." The goal of the program is to help consumers reduce waste and lower bills.

"Green Button will arm millions of Americans with information they can use to lower their energy bills," says Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "Innovative tools like these are good for our economy, good for the health of our communities, and an essential part of our approach toward a secure and clean energy future that works for Americans."

Green Button is an industry-led effort that allows electricity customers to download their household or building energy-use data in a consumer- and computer-friendly format.

The following utilities and electricity suppliers are making new commitments:

- American Electric Power, serving 5.3 million customers in 11 states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia);

- Austin Energy, serving 400,000 customers in Texas;

- Baltimore Gas and Electric, serving 1.2 million customers in Maryland;

- CenterPoint Energy, serving 1.8 million households in Texas;

- Commonwealth Edison, serving 3.4 million households in Illinois;

- NSTAR, serving 1.1 million households in Massachusetts;

- PECO, serving 1.4 million households in Pennsylvania;

- Reliant, serving 500,000 households in Texas; and

- Virginia Dominion Power, serving 2.4 million customers in Virginia and North Carolina.

These utilities have agreed to base their Green Buttons on a common technical standard developed in collaboration with a public-private partnership supported by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Companies announcing commitments to support utility deployment of the Green Button include Itron, OPower, Oracle and Silver Spring Networks, joining existing commitments from Aclara and Tendril.

Several companies also announced that they are developing applications or services for businesses and consumers using this industry data standard. These companies include Belkin, Efficiency 2.0, EnergySavvy, FirstFuel, Honest Buildings, Lucid, Plotwatt, Schneider-Electric, Simple Energy and Sunrun.

These new commitments build on similar pledges made in January by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), Southern California Edison, Oncor, Pepco Holdings Inc., Glendale Water and Power, and San Diego Gas & Electric to provide the capability to nearly 12 million households this year.

Apps for Energy

In related news, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NIST announced the Apps for Energy contest to spur development of energy-related software applications based on the Green Button standard. The contest, which is being co-sponsored by PG&E and Itron, complements a recently closed $8 million grant funding opportunity to help consumers better manage their energy consumption by using new smart grid technologies.

The DOE also launched an online map that enables utilities across the country to show the progress they are making toward providing their customers access to their own energy data in consumer- and computer-friendly formats.

In addition, the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, a public-private partnership supported by NIST, announced a new initiative to facilitate Green Button implementation for the electric industry.

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