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Opinion

Utility Company in Denver Controls Thermostats When Heatwave Strikes

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It’s bad enough that we’re allowing the internet to track our every move, or that our telephones are listening in on our conversations in order to try to sell us things on Facebook.

Heck, some of us even invite this by purchasing a Google Home or Amazon Alexa, essentially weaponizing the way in which these corporate behemoths attempt to siphon our hard-earned cash, as though we were simply cattle.

All of these affronts are akin to seizures of our personal identity, by companies who then examine our behavior with resources beyond our comprehension to find even more pointed ways to hunt our disposable income.

But now, a program designed to save Coloradans money has allowed a utility company to control their customers’ home thermostats, leaving many sweltering during a recent heatwave.

Signing up for a rewards program that lets the utility take control of your thermostat settings, in exchange for credits toward bills, probably sounds like a better idea when the weather is mild. But when temperatures reached into the 90s Tuesday in Denver, and thousands of customers read a message on the device saying it was locked because of an “energy emergency,” there was regret, KMGH reports. “I mean, it was 90 out, and it was right during the peak period,” Tony Talarico said. “It was hot.” Xcel Energy had exercised its prerogative to set the smart thermostats where it wanted to, saying it was necessary because of a power outage in Pueblo, as well as the hot weather and heavy air conditioner usage.

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The utility said 22,000 members of the Colorado AC Rewards program could not control their thermostats for hours on Tuesday. Talarico said his was set at 78 or 79. Other customers posted on social media that indoor temperatures reached as high as 88 degrees during the lockout. “Let’s remember that this is something that customers choose to be a part of based on the incentives,” said Emmett Romine of Xcel.

And what exactly are those incentives?

The incentives include a $100 credit for enrolling and another $25 a year.

The only question now is which other utility companies are going to begin rolling out similarly invasive “incentive” programs?

 

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About the Author:
As a lifelong advocate for the dream promised us in the Constitution, Andrew West has spent his years authoring lush prose editorial dirges regarding America's fall from grace and her path back to prosperity. When West isn't railing against the offensive whims of the mainstream media or the ideological cruelty that is so rampant in the US, he spends his time seeking adventurous new food and fermented beverages, with the occasional round of golf peppered in.




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