I've been working with a friend of a proposal to put power monitors into peoples houses and make their power usage figures available in (close to) real time. Guess what Google has beaten us to the punch, their development is so un-cannily similar to what we were thinking about that it's scary. Their going green initiative links smart meters to a google charting solution that shows domestic consumers exactly what power they've been using.
This is interesting in a number of ways
1) Smart meters are being rolled out across Australia. Energy providers will be able to monitor and bill usage based on 30 minute blocks, but we're not sure what technology will be available to consumers to see their usage.
2) Google's initiative would/could/should work here, but are they planning to do it?
3) The core of our idea was very similar to Google's but we wanted to go beyond the smart meter, and look and individual device usage. That option is still wide open.
The core of our study was how households would change their usage when they could see where the power was going. That option is still wide open, we just need to find the right partner, and it looks as though that partner could be google.