AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Verizon Foundation has teamed up with consumer-energy research organization Pecan Street Inc., to launch a new program that will provide low-income communities with energy management solutions that empower consumers to make smarter choices about their energy use and save money. Announced at SXSW Eco, the new program will conduct a unique home-energy research trial, called the Smart Solutions for Affordable Housing program.
Funded through a cash grant from the Verizon Foundation, the program will use Verizon Wireless' network and 4G LTE routers, which will serve as the backbone for the devices the foundation is donating: tablets, eGauge circuit-level monitoring systems, Nest smart thermostats and a new mobile application for monitoring home energy use. The energy management solution will be donated to 140 low-income volunteer households in Austin, with the assistance of Foundation Communities and Wildflower Terrace, which provide affordable housing opportunities to low-income communities.
"Through these strategic efforts and philanthropy, the Verizon Foundation is deploying our technologies in underserved communities to help households make better energy decisions that help them save money," said Michelle Miller, Central Texas region president for Verizon Wireless. "Using Verizon's technology and Pecan Street's energy management tools, low-income residents will be able to view their energy consumption and receive recommendations on how to save on electricity. This will allow them to make informed decisions to lower their monthly energy bills."
For many low-income households, the cost of residential energy remains unaffordable. According to data presented by the U.S. Energy Information Association in 2012, the average household spends $1,945 annually on heating, cooling, appliances, electronics and lighting. Households with the lowest 20 percent of income spent nearly 6 percent of their income on energy bills. For these families, lack of adequate energy can worsen health conditions, lead to the removal of vulnerable members from the household, or contribute to homelessness.
Verizon's proven advanced technologies solutions will serve as the platform for delivering to participating customers' real-time information and guidance on their energy consumption, electric bills and the condition of the appliances and heating and cooling systems in their apartments. Such information should help participating customers cut their energy costs and procure the long-term benefits of a low-carbon economy.
"Verizon and Pecan Street share a commitment to using big data and the latest advanced technologies to help residents protect their family finances, be more comfortable in their homes and improve the environment," said Pecan Street CEO Brewster McCracken. "We are very excited to integrate Verizon's wireless technology into the groundbreaking research we are conducting across the country."
Pecan Street has already begun recruiting volunteer households from four multifamily buildings, and it has started installation of home-energy monitoring systems that provide real-time, circuit-level and whole-home electricity information to customers and researchers. The results of this research will provide valuable benefits to the low-income families in the project and to organizations providing services that affect families' energy bills.
In addition, to further showcase the outcomes of the program and help stakeholders understand the impact that the energy management solution can have on low-income residences, the Verizon Foundation will publish quarterly energy usage reports throughout the two-year project, with a final report to be released at the end of 2015.
SXSW Eco Hackathon
The Verizon Foundation is the official sponsor of the SXSW Eco Hackathon, which challenges programmers to develop energy management applications within 24 hours. Participating software developers will have access to energy data from anonymous sources, provided by the Pike Powers Lab (which is owned and operated by Pecan Street Inc.). The apps are intended to serve as usable tools that interpret energy use data to help consumers solve a range of everyday problems in their homes. App developers will also be competing for the Verizon Innovation Center Invitation – a behind-the-scenes tour of a Verizon Innovation Center (in Waltham, Mass., or San Francisco) and a meeting with Verizon innovation team members.
Verizon Enterprise Solutions will be providing unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) technology to support video conferencing during the hackathon.
Commitment to Energy Management
Verizon and its employees and its services are at the heart of efficient and impactful energy solutions for a greener future for businesses, consumers and society. Verizon is helping to provide solutions for the energy and utility industry– from playing a role in clean energy to helping energy companies securely, reliably, safely and cost effectively collect and distribute oil and gas to the market. Verizon recently announced a $100 million investment in a solar and fuel cell energy project that will help power nearly 20 of the company's facilities across the United States. The project will enable Verizon to generate more than 90 million kilowatt hours of its own green energy annually.
As an early adopter of fuel cell technologies, Verizon currently operates one of the largest fuel cell sites of its kind that helps power an environmentally-friendly call-switching center and office building in Garden City, NY. Verizon also uses 26 solar-assisted cell sites in remote areas in the western U.S. to help power a portion of the nation's largest and most reliable wireless network.
For more information about how Verizon is growing its business by applying innovative technologies to solve important social issues, visit http://responsibility.verizon.com/.
The Verizon Foundation helps people to live healthy, safe and independent lives by addressing disparities in education, healthcare and sustainability. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon's employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.8 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 100 million retail connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries. A Dow 30 company with nearly $116 billion in 2012 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of 180,900. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.
VERIZON'S ONLINE NEWS CENTER: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, media contacts and other information are available at Verizon's online News Center at newscenter.verizon.com. The news releases are available through an RSS feed. To subscribe, visit newscenter.verizon.com/corporate/feeds.