Can The Power Company Control Your Thermostat In New York State?
As we wrap up summer and start to get ready for the cooler months, there are going to be plenty of times we're you're going to need to make some adjustments to your thermostat.
Whether we get a late-season heatwave or an early winter snowstorm, this is always the time of year in Western New York when our weather gets a little more unsettled than in the middle of the summer or the dead of winter.
But with all of these pending adjustments, do you actually have full control over the heating and/or cooling system in your house?
Just about a week ago more than 20,000 people in the state of Colorado lost control over their thermostats for several hours. According to a news report by KCDO-TV in Denver, a late summer heatwave caused thousands of Denver area residents to want to turn down the cooling on their air conditioners, but found themselves and were in fact locked out from making changes to their home temperatures.
The local energy company, Xcel Energy, invoked a provision in their Colorado AC Rewards program that allowed to Xcel Energy to take control of peoples thermostats in exchange for a discount on their energy bills. The program, which people joined voluntarily, allows the energy company to restrict and potentially change the temperature in people's homes when there is high energy usage or an energy emergency.
I'm sure not being able to change the temperature in your home came as a surprise to many people in Colorado. This then made me wonder...
Could the same thing happen in New York State?
Yes, yes it can.
New York State operates similar programs to the one described above. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA for short, The Smart Thermostat Pilot program offers free state-of-the-art thermostats at no cost in exchange for participating in their ConnectedSolutions Program.
ConnectedSolutions allows your smart thermostat to slightly adjust your home temperature and temporarily reduce energy use during peak energy events. These events occur on the hottest days of the summer when energy demand is highest, and electricity is most expensive. Receive $30 cash reward for signing up plus $20 cash rewards every following year of enrollment by participating in 80% of peak energy events.
In addition to this state-run program, many of the local power companies offer something similar:
- PSEGLI has the Smart Savers Thermostat Program
- NYSEG has the Smart Savings Rewards Thermostat Program
- National Gril has the ConnectedSolutions Program
- RG&E has the Smart Savings Rewards Thermostat Program
- ConEdison has the Smart Usage Rewards Program
I don't participate in any of these programs. I don't want big brother to be taking control of any of my devices. If you have enrolled in any of these programs, then you have given your utility company the ability to control and adjust your thermostat.
Hopefully, you won't be in for any surprises this year.