People Power Interview: Open Source Smart Grid For the People

The emerging green technology movement has created a large number of innovative and interesting start ups trying to bring their vision of a better tomorrow to market, while hopefully making some money in the process. Those tying into smart grid development are of particular interest, as the tech they create ties consumers into a greater local network of other consumers and utilities all focused on balancing individual energy needs against those of the greater community.

People Power, a start up out of the Silicon Valley, is one such company focused on the smart grid. They are developing devices which consumers can use to track the energy usage of appliances in a real time environment. We recently caught up with Gene Wang, founder and CEO, over email to find out more about his company and its “open source” approach to the smart grid.

EarthTechling: Explain a little bit about People Power. What is the general idea behind your company?

Gene Wang: People Power is a green technology company focused on saving consumers money while they go green. We help you reduce your home electricity costs by identifying the utility expenses of your appliances and advising how to trim power use and providing simple automated control for power-hungry appliances and devices.

ET: What is this idea of an open source home area network? What exactly does that mean?

Wang: Open source means that anyone can download the software source code free of charge and use it. This allows for easier interoperability between systems from different vendors, lowers cost of development and enables anyone to quickly build new devices that communicate on the home area network.

image via People Power

image via People Power

ET: Talk about your idea of what the smart grid is. What benefits can consumers get from being connected to your company’s technologies in this grid?

Wang: The smart grid is largely benefiting utilities today, and will cost the consumers billions of dollars to upgrade the infrastructure. For example, smart meters allow utilities to read your meter without sending people to visit each house. Our solution will enable consumers to save money by reducing energy consumption without reducing their comfort.

ET: Do you feel consumers are ready for the smart grid? Why or why not?

Wang: I think consumers need to see tangible benefits from the smart grid to become excited about it. That is why we are building this open source home area network, to benefit consumers by saving them money while they go green.

ET: How do you feel People Power will succeed in such a new market?

Wang: By building a simple, inexpensive system that is easy to install, saves lots of money and is fun to use. And by developing partnerships with established brands to bring this solution to market.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.