Facebook plans a social energy application


Marcy Scott Lynn,
Arlington, VA, Palo Alto, CA, and Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — October 19, 2011 – Facebook is now venturing into the consumer energy consumption space in a partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Opower to jointly develop a new social energy application.

The initiative aims to use the power of social networking to raise consumer awareness about energy consumption. Leveraging the Facebook platform, the app will enable users – who choose to participate – to benchmark their home’s energy usage against a national average of similar homes, compare their energy use with friends, enter energy saving competitions, and share information on how to become more energy efficient.

Users will also enjoy a seamless data upload and authentication process, allowing millions of people to pull home energy usage data from their utility provider into the app.

The partnership seeks to build on each organization’s strengths to offer a powerful tool that provides context and connection for helping people become more energy efficient. Facebook’s reach of more than 800 million people will combine with Opower’s more than 60 utility partners’ network, while NRDC will provide environmental expertise while engaging new partners and encouraging consumer participation.

The concept of the app, which is due to be launched in early 2012, is based on research on human behavior change and energy use dating back to the 1980s, which demonstrated word-of-mouth to be an effective tool in encouraging people to use energy more efficiently. With Facebook effectively a global platform for word-of-mouth information transmission, the application’s combination of energy information, behavioral science, and advocacy with hundreds of millions of users has the potential to create a global dialogue about energy efficiency.

“People have discovered that the [Facebook] platform can be used as a powerful tool for positive change,” commented Marcy Scott Lynn of Facebook Sustainability. “We hope to inspire a grand conversation about energy efficiency among the millions of people who use the service every day.”

In support of the effort, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), the City of Palo Alto, and Glendale Water & Power, have become the first U.S. utilities to signal their intention to participate by offering their customers the ability to import usage data into the social energy application. Collectively these utilities account for 4 million customers, including all residents of Chicago. Several other utilities are expected to announce their participation in the coming weeks.