We’re all in this Together
Introducing MeterHero Communities
Of all 0f the Jeffersonian ideals that linger amidst the modern features of U.S. government, the most entrenched is the local municipal utility — the veritable symbol of self-government, independence, and self-determination. The sturdy water tower stands guard over tens of thousands of communities in the United States, delivering health, safety, and the assurance that tomorrow will be built upon the bounty of today.
However, even the tradition of the local utility is fading. Conglomerate energy companies now provide most of our energy. And while water is still governed locally, billion dollar companies like Itron, Badger Meter, and Veolia rule the infrastructure that keeps these utilities running.
The greatest casualty of the modern era, however, is the loss of community control. While more than 1,000 U.S. mayors have joined a climate protection initiative, these elected officials are virtually powerless to address their own municipal water and energy footprints. Local businesses have signed up to help, but their hands are tied too.
This week, MeterHero is debuting Communities. It’s a first step toward democratizing the world’s water and energy data and recapturing the spirit of self-determination. We believe that water and energy should be managed with as much an eye on the needs of the people as the needs of utility conglomerate shareholders. If a mayor wants to implement a sustainability program, she shouldn’t be blocked by the utility monopoly on data. If a business wants to do its part, it should be able to engage its employees irrespective of which water district collects their bills. We believe that if people want to act to address issues like climate change and water scarcity, they should be able to pull together no matter where they might call home. We’re all in this together.
MeterHero Communities work like this. First you connect your home utility accounts so that you have all the information you need at your fingertips. Then you decide who you want to invite to your community. At first, you might invite your extended family. How does my energy use compare with my sister? My parents? My crazy aunt? Then you might create a separate community for your friends. A little friendly competition, perhaps, to inspire each other to do better.
A company can create a community for its employees and track their water and energy savings — even if they live all over the world. Property managers can create communities for their buildings. A shared meter can tell the whole building how much it’s using. Individual meters allow tenants to compare across similar types of units. Importantly, while we think our water and energy data is really interesting, some people prefer to remain anonymous. So we make it possible to participate in a community without giving away your identity.
Each MeterHero Community automatically tracks its members’ cumulative water and energy savings. The bigger your community (and the more you invest in energy and water conservation), the more results your community will have to show for itself.
A MeterHero Community is a first step towards a more sustainable water and energy future. We envision being able to pool resources towards discounts on products, create demand response teams, and even begin transitioning towards water and energy as a service. Imagine being able to place an order for cheap, clean energy when you need to charge your home battery!
For more than a century, our engineers outpaced the natural environment in a race to expand our supply of water and energy. We built power plants, reservoirs, channels, and tunnels faster than we could grow our population. Water and energy became virtually free to any resident of any community anywhere in America. And if it wasn’t, programs like Rural Electrification, the Colorado River Storage Project, and the Los Angeles Aqueduct made sure that these resources would find their way to the far corners of the continent.
When we built our water and energy systems, our ability to collect information about our consumption lagged far behind the volume of each day’s delivery. Unless you wanted to take your own meter readings, you pretty much had to rely on a monthly, quarterly, or annual visit from your utility. But with an unlimited and relatively cheap supply, this arrangement worked out pretty well for all parties. Utilities covered their fixed costs and made a little money; consumers could take for granted the availability of water and energy for a tiny fraction of their monthly income.
Now that our ability to collect information exceeds the volume of water and energy being delivered, we have the opportunity to rethink the very fundamentals of water and energy management. Costs are rising, such that it will soon be less expensive to produce your own water and energy than to purchase it from your utility.
Our utilities served their purpose during a time of resource abundance. Aging infrastructure and outdated business models won’t be up to the challenge of resource scarcity, won’t capture the value of clean energy, and won’t sustain local communities. We need a resurgent Jeffersonian ethic that lets us solve fundamentally local problems like water scarcity, as well as contribute local solutions to global problems like climate change.
Thomas Jefferson recognized that resilient networks built on top of personal relationships were the best defense against tyranny. If we want to be able to act in the face of climate change, water scarcity, and technological opportunity, we must harness our water and energy data for our own purposes and not just accept the finality of our utility bills. Hopefully, MeterHero Communities provide a step in that direction.
Start a community today — https://www.meterhero.com
Thanks for being a part of MeterHero,
McGee Young, Founder and CEO