Open Data By Design

The Wind Number

Most Americans don’t like being told what time of day they should use electricity, even though meeting their demand is going to get expensive as more renewables are integrated into the electrical grid. Popular reaction to load shifting ranges from procrastination to disinterest to outright rejection of the very idea of it. Yet survey after survey indicates that Americans would choose clean energy over fossil fuels if it costs less. Why wouldn’t they? Energy storage and additional natural gas power plants will be needed; why not offer a more compelling value proposition instead of making the expensive capital investment?


Sabreez is a Green Button App that shows people how much clean energy they use so that they can use more, and save money on their utility bill. Wind power is the lowest cost form of electricity, and natural-gas-peaker plants are the most costly form of electricity, so using power when wind is strong at night instead of in the middle of the day when demand is high, saves money. Therefore, the resulting “Wind Number” is a measure of a User’s clean energy consumption and their savings.


Sabreez uses power generation data provided by the California ISO to produce a database of “Wind Numbers,” which is the systemwide ratio of wind over fossil fuels on an hourly basis. When a user registers, they can download their hourly data in an xml format to their desktop using the green button connect feature of their utility. When the user then uploads the xml file into the program, their hourly consumption is matched with the hourly Wind Number, and their Wind Number for the period is presented.


The User can display the results at to win a box of LEDs. People that have not given much thought to their energy usage have the lowest Wind Numbers. Just by shifting energy consumption to the evening and morning hours, Wind Numbers can increase substantially. Charging an electric car at night vs during the day is a much larger increase. Using solar increase the Wind Number even more, because consumption is decreased or reversed in the middle of the day when Wind Power is absent and fossil fuel use is peaking. All the smart grid technologies increase your Wind Number.


Your Wind Number is a metaphor for your clean energy consumption, and your impact on the environment. It differs from programs that return your carbon footprint in that it’s a positive message that appeals to a broader market segment. It can be marketed as conspicuous consumption. Moreover, since every smart meter in California has a Wind Number associated with it, and it’s based solely on the time of day that you draw electricity from the Grid, it can be used as a form of normative reporting. Rather than shaming people into using less electricity, it encourages people to consume more of something good, and should have more effective reach to a broader market segment than current programs. Using Wind Power Sabreez.

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Idea No. 161