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Google PowerMeter comes to Canada

Google has already conquered the world of Internet search, and now has its sights set on the less exciting but potentially lucrative world of smart metering. Today the company announced the launch of PowerMeterwith seven utilities in North America and one in India, including Toronto Hydro, the only Canadian utility involved.
Toronto Hydro will outfit some of its customers (likely fewer than 1,000) with the Google PowerMeter for a three-month long pilot project. PowerMeter allows users to check their electricity consumption on their iGoogle homepages. Ideally, customers will get a better sense of how they use electricity and shift consumption to off-peak times to get better rates. Toronto Hydro also claims that providing more information to consumers about consumption encourages them to use less electricity overall (resulting in savings between 5% and 15% on a monthly bill), and that’s ultimately better for the environment.
Metering services such as Googles fall under the umbrella of smart grid technology, which aims to change the way electricity is distributed and consumed in order to be more efficient. And it is big business. In addition to Google, Cisco Systems, IBM and a slew of other software and telecommunications companies are involved. In Ontario alone, the provincial government will need to spend $1.6 billion over the next five years to build out the first stages of a smart grid, according to a reportreleased in February by a task force comprised of utilities and private companies.
Ontario is home to a number of smart grid companies, including Lixar SRS, which provides a similar service to Googles PowerMeter. Lixar was part of a pilot project completed last year with Direct Energy that outfitted around 200 households in the Toronto suburb of Milton with the companys technology. But now with Google in the game, the market just got a lot more competitive.