Green Button Alliance

GBA Chairman’s Update

The energy industry is transforming and is actively investigating and selecting innovative technology platforms based on business and customer benefits, ease of integration and interoperability with their existing and planned smart grid investments, overall implementation costs, and time to market. Utilities; their customers; and industries like solar, real estate, and the Internet of Things (IoT); are also highly interested in analyzing and leveraging customer energy-usage information in a variety of ways.  The Green Button Alliance believes Green Button will play a key role in the transformation of the energy industry.

The Green Button Alliance receives many enquiries from around the world regarding the capabilities of the standard, which are addressed by our technical staff. This month, our "Tech Corner" highlights the powerful, lesser-known, and newer capabilities of the flexible Green Button standard and clarifies some common misconceptions.  Read the article to gain a new understanding about Green Button data and smart meters, how Green Button implementations stack-up against existing technologies, and the powerful capabilities enabled by the Green Button Retail Customer Schema, UsageSummary, Summary Billing, and UsagePoint metering functionality.  These features provide significant functionality to utilities, residential customers, commercial energy managers, and vendors.

In addition, some may not be aware that the Green Button standard is designed to support all utility customer-usage data─energy, natural gas, and  water.  The Green Button standard enables energy providers to offer access to energy-use data whether or not smart meters are in place; and similarly, smart water meters are not required for water utilities to provide Green Button water-usage data.  Water utilities can deploy Green Button water-use platforms to enable their customers to access their usage data to better-understand how they can conserve this precious resource.  And for vendors, just imagine the worldwide market opportunity for standardized Green Button water-conservation applications that work across all water utilities.

If your company is planning to provide customers with energy- or water-usage data─or has already developed solutions that address requirements for customer data access─the Green Button Alliance can help you further.  We look forward to working with you.

– Syed Mir, CIO; London Hydro
Green Button Alliance - Chair


Tech Corner

With Smart Meters or Without, Green Button Provides the Data!

A common misunderstanding in the industry is that smart meters are required for utilities to leverage the Green Button standard. The flexible Green Button standard is designed to enable utilities to provide usage data regardless of their currently deployed metering system. Smart meters can simplify the energy usage retrieval process, however, Green Button enables utilities to report energy-usage information from whatever means it is collected and allows utilities to report energy-usage information in whatever interval the utility chooses. Although the Green Button standard mandates the presence of interval data it does not mandate the interval frequency.

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The Green Button Standard Offers More Features & Functionality

The Green Button standard enables utility customers to easily access and share their electricity, natural gas, and water-usage information in a consistent format; while ensuring customer privacy and transmission security of energy information. Comma Separated Values (CSV) and Electronic Data Exchange (EDI) files fail to provide consistent formats, do not ensure privacy of customer information, are not required to ensure transmission security, and do not support complex data structures. The Green Button standard utilizes a combination of Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Atom Syndication Format, which enables it to support complex data structures that allow for richer expression of data.

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Powerful Capabilities

Additionally, the Green Button standard offers powerful lesser-known capabilities that enable utilities to meet regulatory requirements, as well as new features that further-benefit utilities, customers, energy managers, and third-party vendors. Read below to learn about the Green Button Retail Customer Schema, UsageSummary, Summary Billing, and UsagePoint metering capabilities.

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Ensures Utilities and Third Parties Protect Customer Privacy

The Green Button standard requires that the energy-usage information data stream cannot contain any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and must be transmitted using a secure-transmission process; thus protecting the customer's privacy and energy-usage information.
However, some energy-usage applications require access to a customer's location or multiple meter locations. To address this requirement, the OpenADE Task Force, a committee of the UCAIug, has defined a Green Button Retail Customer Schema that provides this information to enable utilities to protect customers' PII while allowing them to meet regulators' and Third Party non-energy information requirements. The Retail Customer Schema requires utilities to transmit the PII in a separate, secured transmission apart from the data stream used to transmit a customer's energy-usage information and it requires the receiving application to logically connect the two, separate data streams. Additionally, the Retail Customer data stream transmission must be authorized by the utility's customer.

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Enables Utilities to Provide More Data in a Standardized Format

The Green Button UsageSummary capability enables utilities to provide non-energy billing-statement information, including: Payments, Generation & Distribution charges, Third Party fees, Administrative adjustments, etc. It has been designed with the flexibility to support all utility billing categories. This allows Third Party applications to present customers with a finer-breakdown of their monthly energy usage.

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Significantly Simplifies Energy Reporting for Energy Managers

The Green Button UsagePoint metering capability allows energy managers to link multiple-meter energy usage with locations and identify individual buildings. Its Summary Billing schema enables utilities to provide billing consumption for energy units, as well as cost, in a manner that enables energy managers to easily capture it from multiple points serviced by a single energy-service provider or across multiple utilities; significantly simplifying energy reporting for multiple consumption points.

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