The Green Button initiative in Ontario began with a discussion on how to leverage the province's world-leading investment in smart meters for greater conservation and economic growth. Spurred on by developments in smart meter data access in the United States, MaRS Data Catalyst began conversations with industry and regulators on both sides of the border to figure out how to bring the Green Button to Ontario.
Connections and ideas
Among their first conversations, the Data Catalyst team spoke with David Eaves, an open data advocate who had been working closely with the White House and various jurisdictions in Canada around better data sharing models. His support of the program was clear:
"I've always believed that if open data is going to scale we need to find standards that will make it easier for people to engage and work with data. Green Button data feels like a particularly strong opportunity since standards make it easier for citizens and customers to build tools to enable them to understand how they consume energy as well as ways they can reduce their cost and carbon foot print."
By putting together the ideas and connections from the conversations with David Eaves and others, MaRS Data Catalyst and the Ministry of Energy announced in the fall of 2012 the creation of an Energy Data Access working group which would lay the foundation for the Green Button in Ontario.
Voices and actions
At the event to launch the working group, the then Ontario Minister of Energy Chris Bentley was enthusiastic about the benefit of the Green Button to Ontarians:
"The Ontario Green Button initiative will enable each of us to have better access to information on our own energy use and will help families make choices to save energy and money."
The working group, comprising of representation from the Ministry of Energy, Ontario Energy Board, Ontario Power Authority, Independent Electricity Systems Operator, Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, seven utilities (Guelph Hydro, Hydro One, Hydro Ottawa, London Hydro, Milton Hydro, Powerstream, Toronto Hydro), the Clean Energy Institute, and MaRS Discovery District (Data Catalyst and CleanTech Practice) worked with partners from the United States to ensure the compatibility of the Green Button Standard in Ontario.
The Download My Data standard launched in four pilot utilities in the spring of 2013; over 50% of Ontarians could now download their data in the Green Button standard. Work on the next phase, Connect My Data, is under way.