Google PowerMeter was a tool that allowed users to track their electricity usage in real-time. It connected to Smart Meters in owners’ homes and presented detailed information about how much power they used.
The project was launched by Google.org – the charitable branch of Google. It aimed to lower electricity consumption and thus assist with reducing the greenhouse effect.
Google decided to shut down PowerMeter in 2011 – two years after its launch. The project failed to appeal to enough customers and seemed to have appeared too early on the market.
For starters, the technology for managing home energy was relatively new back in 2009. Many companies were releasing energy-management programs and tools, such as EarthAid and Microsoft’s Hohm, for example, but not many people knew such tools existed.
Furthermore, utility companies were wary of partnering with Google on this project. Google had a history of joining a given industry and changing the relationship between provider and customer – mainly by being more user-friendly. Established businesses didn’t want to risk that relationship. On the side, there were concerns about privacy issues and the personal data to which Google would have access when installing PowerMeter in users’ homes.
As a result, even though Google landed a partnership with companies like San Diego Gas & Electric in the USA and Yello Strom in Germany, the latter wasn’t actively adding customers to the program. San Diego Gas & Electric even started building their own tool.