Woke Utility Co. Takes Over Thermostats During Heatwave

As we, perhaps foolishly, continue to connect the entire world in onto itself, putting internet connectivity into everything from our cars to refrigerators, we seem to take little time to think about the consequences down the road.

For example, should someone miss a car payment on a vehicle that’s connected to the internet, the broker or dealer may simply render it inoperable until your balance is back in the black.

Or, maybe your car won’t turn on after your bank app shows the dealer app a transaction demonstrating how many drinks you’ve had and when.

For some residents in Denver, this digital domain has already become a battlefield in their homes.

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.

How many customers were affected?

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

God forbid this begin to look “normal”.  We’d soon have these companies requiring a subscription just to use things we’re already paying for.


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