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App would have made Smart Meter project run more smoothly, developer says

12/12/2014 05:40 EST | Updated 02/11/2015 05:59 EST
[CBC’s Nil Koksal will take a closer look at VeloBill and what the Ontario energy minister is saying in response tonight on CBC News Toronto on CBC TV beginning at 5 p.m.]

A Toronto software developer created an app to help Ontario residents see how much energy they use, when they use it, and to give them ideas on how to save on energy.

The VeloBill app, created by Ron Dembo, has had international success and was supposed to work with Smart Meters in Ontario, but because companies will not open up meter data to software developers to use, the project stalled.

In light of this week’s Ontario auditor general report saying the installation of hydro Smart Meters in 4.8 million homes and businesses across the province is costing ratepayers nearly double what the government originally budgeted — and that Smart Meters are not reducing demand for electricity at peak times — Dembo is frustrated by the lack of traction his app has gained in the energy sector.

VeloBill was intended to provide users you'd look for one single glance and know everything they needed to know about their energy bill in 15 seconds, Dembo, CEO of Zero Footprint, says.

Hit roadblocks to access energy data

But even after it won an environmental award from the White House and Dembo secured a deal to work with MaRS and Hydro One, Dembo hit roadblocks,

“When I pay electricity I own my data,” he said. “I should have access to that. We haven't had access to that.”

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s report slammed the province's Smart Meter program, saying it hasn't reduced demands for energy at peak times as promised.

VeloBill is already working in California, but Dembo isn't optimistic Ontarians will get the same opportunity.

He has pivoted the technology to focus on health care instead.

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