Denver7’s Jaclyn Allen reports on a not-really new program from Xcel Energy designed to help cope with extremely high electrical consumption during hot summer days, which Tuesday was apparently engaged for the first time to the surprise of a number of homeowners who (sorry to say this) shouldn’t have been surprised:
Xcel confirmed to Contact Denver7 that 22,000 customers who had signed up for the Colorado AC Rewards program were locked out of their smart thermostats for hours on Tuesday.
“It’s a voluntary program. Let’s remember that this is something that customers choose to be a part of based on the incentives,” said Emmett Romine, vice president of customer solutions and innovation at Xcel. [Pols emphasis]
Customers receive a $100 credit for enrolling in the program and $25 annually, but Romine said customers also agree to give up some control to save energy and money and make the system more reliable.
“So, it helps everybody for people to participate in these programs. It is a bit uncomfortable for a short period of time, but it’s very, very helpful,” said Romine.
Many new homes built in Colorado today utilize a smart thermostat that both consumers and–if given permission by the consumer–utility companies can access to help manage power consumption during peak periods. This helps avoid the much less pleasant alternative of rolling blackouts when the power grid hits capacity. It’s also available to existing homeowners who upgrade to compatible smart thermostats.
And again, AC Rewards is a 100% voluntary and compensated program that no consumer is forced to participate in. But that’s not stopping Republicans like this Maryland congressional candidate from declaring an impending thermostatic dystopia and trying to turn this voluntary program into a stick to beat Colorado Democrats with:
Here in the reality-based community, we know that Democratic politicians aren’t trying to punish Coloradans with Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency programs any more than consumers are being forced to participate in them. That Tuesday was the first time the system was activated in this emergency capacity since it rolled out in 2019 shows how sparingly the smart thermostat’s emergency override is employed. Given a choice between limits on power in an emergency versus losing power entirely, it’s an easy choice. Or at least it should be.
If you’re determined to uncover a nefarious plot behind everything, that’s all you tend to find.