If you’re one of those who had a rude awakening to a doubled energy bill during the winter of this writing, then I’m sure you can create a morose picture of your local energy company suits ringing their hands in delight at getting more of your cash. Not that your local energy company is directly to blame, of course, when our real energy spikes come from those who control the puppet strings. My local energy company (Portland General Electric) had eye-popping double rates this winter due to what they say was the severe winter weather and the inability to get meter readers onto people’s property. With that, they swiftly used an averaging system that subsequently seemed to gouge every customer on PGE’s line.
Well, nobody seemed to take to the streets with torches in hand and burn the energy company’s headquarters down as part of the growing financial suffering of those who fall under a certain income bracket. When it comes to suspicious behavior on gouging customers for more money, people mostly seem to suck it up and just pay it or get help from churches or Salvation Army who always have an overload of people needing their energy bills paid to avoid a shutoff. Seemingly, though, the energy companies are still willing to help you avoid that scenario.
While not yet widespread, some utility companies around America have already employed meters in homes that enable you to keep watch on your usage on a daily basis. These meters help people see just how much power they use in a day so there isn’t any dispute on the bill. The only problem is these meters don’t tell you exactly what appliance you’re using that’s drawing so much juice.
Enter once again Google…who just might become powerful enough to acquire every utility company in America. With new software they’re developing to help us break down which appliance is causing that energy bill pain, they’ll just draw another line on the wall in creating things that’ll change our lives for the better. Only, this time, they may take a little longer to refine their power meter due to its complexity and perhaps face the wrath of energy companies who may resent someone taking over the reigns to help us save exponential bucks.
What makes this Google software different from all the other wonders the company has developed is that they can’t do it alone. That might seems out of order when Google has long had a can-do attitude about all their ideas for the web and haven’t failed yet in finding ways to make sure they get done. Nevertheless, you can bet our government has been keeping a hawk’s eye on Google through most of this decade on inventions that will not only revolutionize how we use the internet but how we pay for it (or not have to pay for it).
Either Google is a blessing for all of us in providing things that could benefit us intellectually and monetarily, or they’re just setting themselves up for a fall by those more powerful. Once you try to defy the fleecing of the American public into paying through the nose for electricity when it could very easily be had for free, you’re potentially playing with an inferno…
Yes, it’s a bit odd that Google can’t really pull off a cyber power meter alone and instead needing outside help to get it implemented. Then again, it is a very complicated system that would have to track through an internet line which appliance in your home is siphoning away a chunk of your monthly earnings. Google also has an elaborate system in mind where you’d get alerts on when the best time would be to run a certain appliance in order to save money. That’s a more sophisticated system already implemented by some energy companies where you can have lower rates operating a clothes dryer or washing machine during certain hours of the day (usually at any time after 10 p.m.).
The real fascination here is that Google is asking utilities to jump on the bandwagon and get involved to get this software into everybody’s homes. In theory, that’s like asking the devil to put up money toward a recruitment center for Good Samaritans. Yet there’s plenty of evidence most utility companies are out to make their dealings with customers as fair as possible. After all, they’re just the vessel through which those above many heads dabble in price gouging mixed with the unpredictability of world affairs. Still, when utility companies stand to lose money with their customers saving a boatload of money, it seems surreal to think of them joining Google to get this software into every household.
Then you also have word that the utility PG&E will be working on a similar device Google is working on. Only, their product wouldn’t be implemented until well into the coming decade, which only gives migraines to customers who’ll undoubtedly be gouged in coming years as energy rates increase along with every other expense.
Liken this perhaps to the contradiction of the medical community wanting cures for every disease known to humankind, yet somewhat balking when dealing with the reality that cures means no work or drastic pay cuts. America’s utility companies likely feel over a barrel in a lot of cases in wanting to help their customers and usually have to be the scapegoats with the frustrated public. Consider that the worst job in the world is arguably the front guy hired to go the media to explain why utility rates have doubled just because meter readers couldn’t read the meters and the company decided to guesstimate your bill.
So expect to keep hearing enticing things about Google’s power meter, but with indefinite delays just because we’re living in a world where big business wants to help us all, yet are stuck in a quandary on how to do it and still reap huge profits. In the meantime, we’ll watch and see if a corporate maverick will be willing to latch onto Google’s software to truly make it a reality rather than the whole project idling in some kind of business purgatory.
The only downside would be the disconcerting news that the power we use on our computers to put these words to paper takes more juice than we initially thought. All the more reason to take deductions when forking over our money to the IRS…