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Google Eyes Water and Gas for PowerMeter

Google hopes to expand the capabilities of its PowerMeter technology to monitor water and natural gas use, in addition to its ability to monitor home electrical use, according to a report on CNET.

PowerMeter allows homeowners to monitor their home’s energy consumption on their smartphone or computer using data collected from smart meter sensors. According to the report, a Google executive said that while there are no immediate plans to move into adjacent utility spaces, the adoption of smart meters among water and gas utilities could allow the company to add those features to PowerMeter in the future.

Like electricity, PowerMeter could be used by consumers to take advantage of off-peak pricing for gas and water demand, and to monitor their appliances remotely.

The company recently announced a trial in Plumas-Sierra County, CA, in which it will use TV White Spaces spectrum to transmit smart grid data. TV White Spaces are unused TV broadcast channels made available by the recent transition from Analog to Digital TV. As part of the National Broadband Plan, the FCC has declared that TV White Spaces are well suited for wireless data networks and can be used to deliver cost effective broadband connectivity for a wide variety of consumer, business and government applications. The experiment will allow consumers to monitor their energy use from a Google web page in real time.

Google, Dell, Microsoft and other technology companies have been lobbying the government to open up the unused space for years.

The company also said it is conducting research and development into “demand dispatch” technology. Demand dispatch would use PowerMeter to help coordinate small reductions in household electricity loads, allowing power companies to avoid having to increase energy generation at peak times.

Google unveiled PowerMeter last year. Recently, the company rolled out an API for the application hoping that appliance manufacturers will incorporate the program into new products. Meanwhile, PG&E has advocated the adoption of an open-source solutions while Microsoft recently introduced Hohm, which also allows consumers to measure electricity use.

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