I’ve had several conversations with people my age and younger who work in the electricity end-use technology space in which we use a particular shorthand for the change in culture and mindset that we want to see happen in the retail electricity industry: “there’s an app for that.” In our conversations it’s shorthand for frustration and exasperation with the utility-centric, hierarchical control, non-consumer oriented retail electricity industry as it currently exists, and how far that traditional mindset and culture is from the potential that exists with highly distributed, mobile, and even transactive end-use technology. We are working to move the industry toward more of a consumer-oriented, “there’s an app for that” culture and level of consumer value-creating innovation.
It’s starting. Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech points out 7 different individual energy management iPhone apps. Some are from companies that are familiar to KP readers, such as Tendril and Ecobee. Some require manual data entry, which is time consuming and probably not very interesting unless you are a total energy geek. In fact, she cites the idea that these are apps ahead of their time:
Energy management tools designed to help you curb unnecessary power used in your home have yet to break into the mainstream, and only 13 percent of people say they would want to manage home energy consumption via a mobile device, according to Clint Wheelock of Pike Research (via GigaOM Pro subscription required). But hey, who needs a market for this stuff, when energy management startups can build a slick iPhone app on the cheap and use the mobile version as marketing for their main products.
Technology at the edge is there, and developing it gets cheaper and cheaper.