Nine more utilities, and three large energy vendors, announced support on Thursday for the Green Button project, which enables utility customers to download their energy consumption data with a click of a button and also use that data for energy-saving apps.
We just got the first glimpse at how the FCC will work with the smart grid industry. Nick Sinai, the new Energy and Environmental Director, said the organization will make recommendations for bringing broadband to the smart grid. This will be game-changing for carriers and others.
Updated: Here’s an unusual combination: a venture capitalist that was formerly a VP at since-shuttered algae fuel startup GreenFuel has joined the Federal Communications Commission, where he will focus on the smart grid. According to peHUB, Nick Sinai, who was a principal at Tenaya Capital (Lehman Brothers Venture Partners) for a little over a year and at Polaris Ventures for three years before that (along with ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe), will become the Energy and Environmental Director for the FCC, where he will lead “a team that will examine how broadband/communications infrastructure and policies can support our national energy and environmental goals, with an emphasis on the Smart Grid,” peHUB quoted him as writing in an email to friends.
The move is unusual, largely because so far, the FCC hasn’t really played a big role when it comes to standards or the implementation of the smart grid. The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), even the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) have done a lot more high-profile work. But the FCC will have an important part to play when it comes to dictating the rules for smart grid services using wireless spectrum and broadband technologies, and perhaps Sinai’s addition signals greater future involvement by the commission.
Update: In response to my question about the FCC’s role in the smart grid, Sinai tells us via email that:
“Right now we are gathering data and information from experts that will help us develop a plan regarding broadband’s role in energy, so we’ll be able to better answer that question in a few months.”