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‘It Was Hot!’: Power Company Remotely Raised Temps On Thermostats, Locked Customers Out During Heatwave

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Published on: September 5, 2022

Residents were shocked last week after finding their homes warmer than they wanted them to be and they had no control.

Denver, CO — Currently in Colorada, residents across the state are experiencing a heat wave. As a result, they are turning down their thermostats in an effort to stave off the rising temperatures. In response to the heat wave, the Xcel Energy company, urged citizens to raise the temperature on their thermostats to help ease the strain on the power grid. While this began as a request from the power company for many residents, others quickly realized over the last week that it was mandatory — and they had no choice in the matter.

Denver residents were shocked last week after finding their homes warmer than they wanted them to be — even when running their air conditioners. Many of the residents theorized that their thermostats were being controlled remotely, and as it turns out, they were right.

Several years back, Xcel Energy began enrolling homeowners in a program called “AC Rewards Program.” The program lured in families by offering them a $100 credit on their bill and in exchange for entering the program, residents signed over permission to Xcel to be able to control their thermostats during high energy demand.

According to their terms, Xcel states that the thermostat control can be overridden either from your thermostat, mobile device, or web app. However, also according to the terms, “On rare occasions, system emergencies may cause a control event that cannot be overridden.”

Last week was one of these “rare occasions.”

9 News reported the grid experienced an energy emergency that day, due to high temperatures and a unit at a power plant that went offline. The company was not selling energy out of state, Xcel said.

“We understand the need to keep cool on hot summer days and work hard to provide our customers with the energy they rely on,” Xcel said in a statement provided to 9NEWS. “Our customers have a choice to participate in this voluntary program that helps them manage energy demands while receiving cash for their involvement.”

When thousands of residents began getting hot inside their homes, they quickly learned that they were unable to turn down their thermostats.

“I mean, it was 90 out, and it was right during the peak period,” Tony Talarico told Denver 7. “It was hot.”

But when Talarico tried to override Xcel Energy’s control, he could not and realized that he was locked out due to an “energy emergency.”

“Normally, when we see a message like that, we’re able to override it,” Talarico said. “In this case, we weren’t. So, our thermostat was locked in at 78 or 79.”

When the some of the more than 22,000 residents who were locked out of their thermostats took to social media to complain about the situation, Xcel reminded them that they voluntarily entered the 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.

“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.

Not surprisingly, this sort of power company bait and switch has been increasing as of late. Last year, TFTP reported on a similar story out of Texas in which thousands of residents were also locked out of their thermostats during a heatwave. Similarly, they had been duped into the program by the lure of savings that never came.

Article posted with permission from Matt Agorist

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