Google has announced that it’s making a $2.65m donation aimed at the energy industry, this time to the Energy Foundation to help “support policy reforms that will lead to more intelligent energy use.”

“One of the best parts about working at Google is the chance to use the Internet and digital technology to help us all manage energy better,” explains Michael Terrell, Senior Policy Counsel, Energy & Sustainability at Google. “We’ve seen big changes in recent years to the way we watch TV, use phones, read and listen to music, yet how we use electricity hasn’t changed much in decades.

“What if instead of a monthly bill we had access to more real-time and actionable information about our electricity consumption?,” he continues. “What if our appliances, air conditioners, and lights adjusted automatically to use energy more efficiently and save money? If we did this in every home it would help improve the reliability of the grid and save billions of dollars.”

So, while smart meters and programmable thermostats go some way towards making this possible already, Google’s looking to challenge rules that govern electricity distribution given that they “were written for last century’s grid.”

Google says it supports three key areas with its grant, one of which is smarter electricity rates that actively encourage consumers to be more efficient, and shift their electricity use to times when it’s cheaper, and perhaps even produce their own on-site energy.

Google also says it would like consumers and businesses to have better access to electricity markets, and be compensated for their efforts in cutting energy consumption. Ultimately, Google notes it would like open data policies that give people access to their own energy data, so they can see exactly how much they consume per appliance, and share this information with third parties who offer related tools and services.

“These policy reforms,” says Terrell, “coupled with the new technologies now being deployed on a large scale, can empower consumers to make smarter energy choices, improve real-time management of the electricity grid, and help facilitate more renewable energy all while lowering overall costs.”

Google has a history of putting money into renewable energy projects. In December 2011, we reported on its $94m ‘clean energy’ investment, incorporating four new solar power projects, while back in November it reported a $75m cash outlay on a 50MW wind farm. The Internet giant claims it has given out almost $1B to the renewable energy sector so far,

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