Vincentian In Contention For GE Ecomagination Challenge

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CaribWorldNews, KINGSTOWN, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Fri. July 30, 2010:  Welectricity, an innovative, award-winning tool for delivering energy efficiency via social networking is in contention in the GE Ecomagination Challenge, a global search by one of the world`s largest companies for the best ideas in the world that will help power the 21st century `smart grid.`

The Ecomagination Challenge, backed by a US$200 million fund and launched by GE earlier this month in collaboration with leading venture capital firms RockPort Capital, KPCB , Foundation Capital, and Emerald Technology Ventures, is a global commitment to build an innovative clean energy future.

The first round of the challenge is based on open voting – and Welectricity, the brainchild of Vincentian energy consultant Herbert A. (Haz) Samuel, is now ranked in the top ten of over 530 ideas submitted to GE from all corners of the globe. 

Subsequent rounds of the challenge will be adjudicated by GE`s panel of experts and several ideas will be selected for cash prizes and for the development of commercial working relationships with GE.

Welectricity, a free web application (at www.welectricity.com) that allows users to track and reduce their electricity consumption at home was launched on April 22nd (the 40th anniversary of Earth Day) and within 3 months had registered users from 33 countries worldwide.

Though built on a Web 2.0 platform, Welectricity is not a technology fix for the global energy consumption problem.  Rather, it is based on principles of behavioural economics – it incorporates behavioural nudges to motivate people to reduce their consumption.

The first of these nudges is the provision of information.  People need information to allow them to understand and, if necessary, adjust their consumption.  But it is now well-established (though not widely recognized) that information, on its own, does not motivate people to change their consumption behaviour.  Consumers also need regular feedback, they need to be able to set consumption-reduction goals (and to make plans to achieve those goals) and, most importantly, they need to be able to able to compare their consumption with that of similar others – a condition psychologists refer to as `social proof`.

Samuel notes that `psychologists and behavioral economists have found that social proof is one of the most fundamental and powerful factors that influence people to take action, and this is one of Welectricity`s key features.`

Welectricity packages these specific behavioural factors into a social network that incorporates the normal functions of social media – users sign up, set up profiles, invite and interact with friends on a simple, twitter-style messaging interface.  On the Welectricity dashboard, a bar graph of the user`s electricity consumption (based on information entered from actual bills) is displayed and the consumption graphs of similar users can be superimposed and directly compared.

A key feature of Welectricity is that it is a low-carbon solution that only requires access to an internet-connected computer and some information from existing utility bills.  No smart meters or other in-house monitoring devices need to be manufactured, packaged, shipped, purchased and installed for Welectricity to work. This Samuel sees as an important point. `After all,` Welectricity`s blog notes, `what`s the point of using a whole lot of energy and carbon emissions to bring you a bunch of new stuff that`s meant to help you use less energy and emit less carbon?`

GE has set up an online voting system to record and track votes for the various ideas submitted.  To vote for Welectricity, visit http://bit.ly/vote4we and click on the `Vote for this idea` button. 

 

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