United Illuminating now provides near real-time energy information to customers utilizing the “Green Button” standard.

Green Button came out of a Obama Administration IT challenge that was spearheaded by former White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra. The challenge was issued in September of 2010, and by January of 2011 the utility industry defined the data standard.  The Pacific Gas & Electric Company and the San Diego Gas & Electric Company were the first to utilize the system.

Read more about Chopra and the White House data initiatives

Green Button defines an energy industry data format standard that all participating energy companies will utilize. This gives app makers and web developers the ability to write software to help consumers better understand their energy usage and react quickly to address issues driving electric bills higher. The Green Button standard ensures the data from utilities will work throughout the country regardless of the energy supplier. It also can ease the process of monitoring total energy usage from electric and gas providers. 

“We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to see how they’re using electricity, so that they can make sound decisions that will save them money and benefit the environment,” said Anthony J. Vallillo, executive vice president and chief operating officer of UI’s parent company, UIL Holdings Corporation in a press release.

Connecting to the data takes a little work, and may not be as simple as setting up an app to look at the data automatically.  UI requires users to visit their website and log into their account. Customers must then find the “energy use analysis” link, click the Green Button icon, and then a file will be downloaded to their computer. A human readable Excel spreadsheet file is also available. The utility says customer data is refreshed every 15 minutes.