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Colorado Residents Locked Out of Their Thermostats on a Hot Day

Colorado Residents Locked Out of Their Thermostats on a Hot Day

“It’s a voluntary program. Let’s remember that this is something that customers choose to be a part of based on the incentives.”

California told residents to conserve energy, including not charging the electric cars the state wants everyone to have by 2035.

Xcel in Colorado took conserving energy to another level. Residents found themselves locked out of their thermostats. From Denver7:

Temperatures climbed into the 90s Tuesday, which is why Tony Talarico tried to crank up the air conditioning in his partner’s Arvada home.

“I mean, it was 90 out, and it was right during the peak period,” Talarico said. “It was hot.”

That’s when he saw a message on the thermostat stating the temperature was locked 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.”

On social media, dozens of Xcel customers complained of similar experiences — some reporting home temperatures as high as 88 degrees.

This is the alert Xcel customers received.

Emmett Romine, Xcel’s vice president of customer solutions and innovation, claimed people give up control of their thermostats when they sign up for the Colorado AC Rewards program:

“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.

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.

Talarico told the station he did not know Xcel could lock him out of the thermostat.

The wording on the website:

By participating in AC Rewards, adjustments are made to your smart thermostat during the hottest summer days. When the demand for electricity is the highest, you’ll help us manage these peaks and ease the strain on the electrical grid. You’ll be cut back on the time your central air works to cool your home with control events.

Control events may occur anytime during the cooling season. You’ll have the ability to opt out of control events at any time and receive optional notifications of control events, either from your thermostat, mobile device, or web app. On rare occasions, system emergencies may cause a control event that cannot be overridden.

Talarico classified an emergency along the lines of “massive wildfires.” But even then, it “doesn’t sit right with us to not be able to control our thermostat in our house.”

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Green fascism

    It was a voluntary program. The major electric company in NJ did the same thing, installing a device on your central A/C. However, after it kicked in only a couple of times in several years, they cancelled the program. With CA’s electric vehicle goals, they may need to implement a mandatory program.

      henrybowman in reply to jb4. | September 2, 2022 at 5:10 pm

      People didn’t read the EUL, plain and simple.
      Just like all those folks who grabbed for the gibsme and stuck Insurance Flo’s dongle in their cigarette lighter socket. Then Flo doesn’t pay out when they mash their car because the dongle tells Flo they were speeding, and they cry big tears

        Isolden in reply to henrybowman. | September 2, 2022 at 7:11 pm

        Just to say, unless it explicitly states in the auto insurance policy that coverage is barred if you are speeding and involved in an accident, Progressive can’t deny coverage on that basis. There are many states in which Progressive can deny 1st party coverage for something not disclosed to the company (a resident relative unlisted driver driving the car) but not 3rd party liability coverage to the injured party. That being said, I’m fairly certain what they did was raise the rates of insurance based on the info in whatever they plugged into the car. Such as, the insured states they only drive 100 miles a week and they drive 1000. Actual premium would be (making this up for an example) 100.00 a month to, say 300.00 per month. That, and you are being tracked everywhere by a creepy tracking service. No one should fall for that.

        Bingo! Don’t read the find print and have an unpleasant surprise,

      SDN in reply to jb4. | September 3, 2022 at 7:15 am

      “Voluntary”, my a$$. Oncor here in TX replaced all the meters in my neighborhood with ones capable of remote shutoff 5 years ago. Didn’t like the choice? You just chose not to have electricity from any of the power companies.

        The Gentle Grizzly in reply to SDN. | September 3, 2022 at 1:38 pm

        The remote shutoff is for changes of service of if you don’t pay your bills.

        When I got to this house the first day, the power was off, as was the water. I drove down to the water bureau to get it in my name, and then to the power company. My drive home was 20 minutes, and I found the power on when I got back.

        Have you or any of your neighbors been shut off arbitrarily or during a grid overload? I doubt it.

        Edward in reply to SDN. | September 4, 2022 at 12:59 pm

        My co-op replaced all the meters. The new meters allow remote meter reading, a significant savings to the members. The meters also alert the office of power outages even when people are asleep,

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to jb4. | September 3, 2022 at 10:22 am

      Your statement of facts sure got a lot of folks upset.

The democrat deciples of the Devil are all heading to democrat HELL when they eventually pass away. There will be no MAGA souls there. No opposition to their ideology for eternity. Only them with no one to constrain. It would be a good Twilight Zone script.

Years ago, my local EMC implemented a program like this. I declined.

The Gentle Grizzly | September 2, 2022 at 11:31 am

They signed up for it, and if they didn’t read the contract closely, they’ve themselves to blame.

I use a “Smart” thermostat, and with my own calculations find that they DO help. But! I do not have mine tied into the utility for two reasons: 1) I control my system, and 2) my present utility doesn’t offer a program even if I wanted one.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to The Gentle Grizzly. | September 2, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    Consumers Energy did something like this, where they said there was a discount if you cut back AC on 90 degree and up days, so I signed up. What they did not tell me was that I would be charged $1 per KWH for any power used during that time.

    They also want to trade $0.14 off peak for people’s $1 per hour solar power.

    And that is why I am in the process of setting up a solar system, 16KW panels, 60KW LiFePo4 battery bank, 2 6KW inverters.

    Natural gas has gone through the ceiling, electricity will become much more expensive.

    please explain how turning on the heat an hour before I get home from work is saving energy.

It’s so easy to defeat this. The ignorance of people that have no understanding of how anything works just astounds me.

For $25 per year they relinquish control of their home? Nuts.

    scooterjay in reply to Barry. | September 2, 2022 at 1:05 pm

    Absolutely simple to get around.

      Then tell us how, without the power company realizing it.

      Oh, and BTW, read the fine print of your homeowners insurance, where you’ll find a clause that unapproved homebrew electricians may pay premiums; they just won’t actually have coverage.

    henrybowman in reply to Barry. | September 2, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    That’s the other astounding part. A damn pot of lentils.

    Sure, they signed up for it, but if you read the warning, it’s all in this corporate evasive lingo, like “control event.” Nowhere does it say “we’re shutting off your air if we think we’re using too much energy.” And all at their discretion.

    CA tried to pass a bill that would allow them to cut off the air without even asking. It was defeated, but it will be back. They never give up.

Not very different from the Texans who chose to have their electric rate tied to the wholesale rate, saved a few bucks most of the time but cost them a boatload during the 2021 ice storm.

smalltownoklahoman | September 2, 2022 at 11:42 am

Well first obvious question: how easy is it to opt out of this program? Is it pretty simple and straightforward or are customers forced to try and navigate a byzantine labyrinth of phone calls, webpages, and other nonsense?

2nd question: Once a customer does successfully opt out can they have a different, perhaps more traditional thermostat installed that they can maintain complete control over and not have it subject to outside manipulation?

    It’s your home, you can install any thermostat you wnat.

      Bartlett in reply to Ironclaw. | September 2, 2022 at 12:32 pm

      And do it whenever you want, If you have a Nest like mine, you can even have a separate one NOT tied to the utility company and swap it out in seconds. Or just use a switch, because there is literally no signaling system in the world less complex than the traditional four- or five-wire furnace system. You can literally just twist two wires together and bypass the thermostat entirely.

      But I never dreamed of signing up for any such thing anyway, because it’s so obviously a sucker game. Utility companies don’t have your best interests at heart. Ever.

      Martin in reply to Ironclaw. | September 2, 2022 at 12:55 pm

      Not if you are contractually obligated to use the provided one to get the rate you signed up for.
      Don’t sign contracts looking only at the upside. For every Quid there Pros a Quo.

        Gosport in reply to Martin. | September 2, 2022 at 11:16 pm

        Yep. Think of utilities as a casino where the odds are decidedly not in your favor if you play the game they are trying to sucker you into.

        And as always, if it sounds too good to be true… it is.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to smalltownoklahoman. | September 2, 2022 at 12:37 pm

    Virtually all of the smart thermostats have owner control as the default. If it was one the utility supplied, it MAY be. But, if not, just change it out.

    I was offered a free Smart Thermostat, which would have entitled me to reduced rates for power. But with the utility controlling the thermostat via the internet. No thanks! The utility’s control was NOT concealed from customers being offered the new thermostats.

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to Geologist. | September 3, 2022 at 10:37 am

      Exactly. I have a smart stat, but it is NOT provided by the utility. They have no such thing on offer, and if they did, I’d decline it.

      I subscribe to a website called Next Door. They provide local groups, and mine covers most of my general area. I see the electric bill complaints on there will billing amounts that are on the roof compared to mine. $300 = $400 bills in times when mine are $140 or so. Either they are living in 7,000 sq ft houses, or are lying about how they have their AC and heat set.

A thermostat is just a switch at the end of wires. Use your own switch.

As Churchill pointed out… the virtue of socialism is shared misery. Now suppose one spent a ton of money to insulate their home well and limit use…. still the same 80 degree “award”.

This kind of thing is why I’ve never even considered any of their “level pay plans” or their “free energy=saving thermostats” that the power utility has offered. No thanks, I don’t want to have to rewire my thermostat because some fascist doesn’t want to let me sleep comfortably at night.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to Ironclaw. | September 3, 2022 at 10:39 am

    If by level pay, you mean taking an average of your past 12 or 13 months of billing and developing a flat rate, I’ve seen no cheats or heard about any. They review the amounts every so-often and adjust accordingly. I tried level billing twice, back in my days of really tight money, and never felt cheated. In both cases, my bill was adjusted down slightly after I went with the plan.

The “it’s voluntary” response from the utility should be of concern. Last year a court in France ruled that a person has no damage claims from the covid vaccine because they took it voluntarily — even though it was mandated.

In the not too distant future courts will view electricity is a commodity that you voluntarily purchase and if you don’t like the terms and conditions, no one is forcing you to buy, Never mind about the quality of life or the fundamental right to be left alone. This action in Colorado is the future, not just some bad P.R.

    rhhardin in reply to George S. | September 2, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    The usual reason for no vaccine damage claims is that nobody would make vaccines if they were subject to lawsuits for damages. Every vaccine kills people, and punitive damages would wipe out anybody foolish enough to make vaccines otherwise. The public choice interest is that vaccines save many more lives than they cost, hence the immunity.

      nordic prince in reply to rhhardin. | September 2, 2022 at 1:40 pm

      It’s not right that pharma bears no responsibility whatsoever for their vaxxes.

      And the “it’s voluntary” argument doesn’t hold water when in numerous situations people are coerced or otherwise under compulsion to get one (e.g. students, healthcare workers, service members).

      Uncle Sam has a vaxx injury compensation court set up, but there are so many hoops to jump through that many individuals who are vaxx injured get denied. It’s scant consolation for the families of those who are injured or killed by these shots. Yet pharma just walks away scot-free. They don’t care how many eggs they have to break to make their omelet.

        healthguyfsu in reply to nordic prince. | September 2, 2022 at 8:26 pm

        It’s right as long as there isn’t a systemic negligence issue. Statistically speaking, almost all lifesaving procedures and treatments of any variety in medicine will kill some people.

        Where it’s wrong is when the government mandates and forces it into their citizen’s arms.

      Gosport in reply to rhhardin. | September 2, 2022 at 11:22 pm

      The US actually has a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).

      Naturally, they don’t cover Covid vaccine related injuries because…. well just because.

All you have to do is put in a regular dumb thermostat.
…a few minutes, and fixed.

They want their choices forgiven like student loan debt.

You surrendered control and now you get to live with the consequences of yielding choice to the utility. Suck it up, buttercup.

Wish I had the visual art talent to MEME that thermostat photo … overlay the LCD with the photo of Biden’s speech last night and the words “Roast in HELL MAGA SCUM!”

Or the like.

Why can’t they bypass their thermostat?

Colonel Travis | September 2, 2022 at 2:14 pm

The future will not be so voluntary. This kind of central control is exactly what the left wants on as much as it can get its disgusting hands on.

    Yes, it always starts as “voluntary “

    Each year at work, all those “voluntary “ programs become absolutes

      henrybowman in reply to gonzotx. | September 2, 2022 at 5:18 pm

      50 years ago when I was working with the military, I heard no end of grumping about the mandatory nature of the “voluntary” Combined Federal Campaign. It was “voluntary,” but their CO got ranked on participation.

        The Gentle Grizzly in reply to henrybowman. | September 3, 2022 at 10:43 am

        Don’t get me started on CFC! And, in Civvy Street, The United Way. “Our department will have 100% participation, people!”

I would laugh at Woke Colorado but Texas and our energy fiasco, depending on windmills and unicorns, is not far behind…

Perry, Abbott fools
And globalist

I don’t feel sorry for them. These are the people who were snickering when we were dealing with power outages during the ice storm last year, and heckling us when the utilities were warning of possible power shortages this summer during record heat. We’ve been criticized for our self-contained power system in Texas, but all of the problems we have are with management, not capacity, and at least they won’t be cutting power here to send it to California or elsewhere. Colorado’s problem is self-made, and it isn’t due to “smart” thermostats. They have the capability to produce far more electricity than they need.

    healthguyfsu in reply to txvet2. | September 2, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    Texas is doing the right thing staying off a grid with Cali. Even the fake mouthpiece elitists on CNMSNBC know it, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to play political checkers with a bunch of crap.

    Of course, they barely cover any Cali blackouts any more because they would oversaturate the newscycle and they aren’t politically useful to the Dem mouthpieces.

Weird. I’m a member of a similar program here in SCE and have always been able to override from the thermostat.

If it didn’t, I’d probably opt out of the program or just temporarily put my old thermostat back, or complete the call for AC circuit manually. 🙂

    henrybowman in reply to Variant. | September 2, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    The critical wording does appear in this article. Homeowners will “usually” be able to override, but during some “emergencies,” they won’t.

Go to Wally World and buy some window AC’s

“…told the station he did not know Xcel could lock him out of the thermostat.”

Taking their lead from software and online EULAs. Or thousand-page laws you can’t read. I guess they had to sign their agreement to see what’s in it.

    healthguyfsu in reply to BierceAmbrose. | September 2, 2022 at 8:19 pm

    Like I said below, the door to door folks that “sell” these plans are flat out liars. If you find yourself in one of these, call and get it canceled immediately before it has a chance to piss you off.

I’m in Colorado, but, at 8000 feet, I’ve never needed AC.

Eastwood Ravine | September 2, 2022 at 6:07 pm

Replace the digital thermostat with an analog one.

    Nothing wrong with a digital thermostat. I have one and it’s great. Replace the thermostat that’s accessible through the internet with one that isn’t and program it your way.
    .

Some guy came by selling one of these plans about 10 years ago before smart stats really took off in VA and I bought his bullshit. He said they would knock money off my bill, and they would just reduce power consumption when I don’t even use it (which is a lie, of course). The thing would start my a/c for about 2 minutes then turn it off every 10 minutes in the hottest parts of the day. It was the most inefficient contraption I’ve ever seen. I had it taken off within a week and told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

amatuerwrangler | September 2, 2022 at 9:13 pm

90 degrees! OMG! What will we do??

I’m next door in So Utah…. I wish it were 90. 100+ has been the norm for the past month or 6 weeks. But it cools down to 80 – 85 at night (after midnight) and 75 overnight is a rare cold snap. Toughen up, people.

This complaint about the utility reminds me of Gulf War i. All these folk who joined reserves and NG for the college money went wild when the G started activation units for the fight. “I joined the Marine reserve for the college money, not to have to actually fight” was a common refrain… If someone is dumb enough to join the USMC and not think they might have to actually earn that college money, they don’t belong in college.

Be it Faust or Sir Gawain and the Green Night, eventually you have to perform on your end of the deal.

    What is the humidity?

    100 is OK with low humidity, at 90-95 like we often have in the Southern states it’s not much fun.

    I’ve been in 120F in India and Pakistan, and with high humidity. The kind of heat were even the natives sweat.

Get rid of any device you own that connects to the interent except for your PC/tablet/smartphone.

If you can’t because. for example, it’s an expensive appliance, disable all connectivity if you can.

If your car connects to the internet, find a way to disable the connectivity any time you do not actively need it.

Unplug from the government/Big Tech surveillance network as much as possible.

Delete Facebook and all social media apps from all devices you own. If you must use social media accounts do it only thru a browser like Brave.

    DSHornet in reply to JHogan. | September 3, 2022 at 10:34 am

    I know people who brag about their refrigerator, stove, HVAC, and even their crock pot (good grief!) are on their home network and they can check everything from off site. My question is, if you didn’t need to do that before, why do you need to do that now?
    .

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to DSHornet. | September 3, 2022 at 10:50 am

      My range has the ability to connect to the ‘net. I did so for curiosity, and soon discovered I really didn’t need to pre-heat my oven from my phone or other such wonders. I took it off line, and it has been so since.

      I MIGHT have left it connected if it would re-set the clock after a power outage, but that is not a function it has.

      So, I disconnected it.

What’s the big deal here? You just go to Home Depot, Lowes, or even Walmart and buy a “standard” thermostat. It goes into place wire-for-wire with the digital POS, and you’re in full conntrol of your HVAC system.

Is this really too difficult for so many people?

    If the thermostat is hard wired as in the common system you’re thinking about, sure, that will work. But some newer systems work on a modified RS-485 communication bus rather than the multiconductor control cable you’re talking about. If that’s the case, pulling new wire would be needed. Of course it can be done, but it complicates the job and makes it more expensive.

    OTOH, maybe the latest tech isn’t the greatest tech. “New and improved” is often oxymoronic.
    .

My thermostat is set at 78° when I am home, and I live in FL. This isn’t a crisis, people. Turn on a ceiling fan.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to hrhdhd. | September 3, 2022 at 10:55 am

    ^^^ this ^^^ I am in NE TN, and I keep things at 76 to 77. If it gets really humid I might drop it to 75 for a few hours. Winter? 66 during the day; 60 at night, and a slow ramp-up back to 66 the following morning.

    I am old, and we codgers get uncomfortable easily. Yet, I am not running the AC at 70; that’s just insane.

Anacleto Mitraglia | September 3, 2022 at 5:49 am

100 bucks now, 25 per year from now on? Is that the price of freedom?

Think of the life lessons for these people if they will engage their minds:
1. These green energy deals actually stink
2. Google thermostat wire color codes and become a (basic) t-stat installation (replacement) expert
I hope some of them think about this experience.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to IndianaGuy. | September 3, 2022 at 11:00 am

    BE VERY CAREFUL on those colors. Not every contractor follows convention. Before doing a changeout, note what color wire is on what terminal in the present thermostat. And, if you go electronic, make sure there is a “C” wire. If there isn’t but there are spare leads in the cable, go to the furnace end, find the “C” terminal there, pick a conductor, and connect the same at both ends.

    Virtually every smart stat I have installed, either for myself, or for friends, has had wire labels in the box. I don’t use them, but they are there for those who would rather do that than write them down. I know nothing about how Nest does it, but ecoBee will walk you through setup if you have any issues, and while you wait a while to talk with someone, they are virtually always sharp at their jobs.

Folks, it’s a contract. READ THE CONTRACT.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to Q. | September 3, 2022 at 11:04 am

    So few DO. It is like the suckers who buy that huge TV “one year same as cash!” and don’t pay it down in the 12 months. Then, the back-charged interest hits with a big “whump!”.

It’s called Demand Management or sometimes Load Control. This is a tool utility companies use to keep the electric distribution system from failing due to lack of generation capacity.

Welcome to the wonderful world of renewable generation. This typically happens at the time when solar systems are dropping off and conventional generation is unable to keep up with the sudden increase in load. This nearly always happens in the late afternoon at what Utilities call this “Peak Demand” period. Solar systems have made this problem much, much worse.

For a more complete description search for “duck curve”. No, I’m not kidding. Do a search & take a look at the curve. The Duck Curve is the utility’s load curve for any given day. Buckle up, this is going to get a lot worse.

    DSHornet in reply to soy golfer. | September 3, 2022 at 10:25 am

    You’re speaking my language. I worked for a large corporation that was well known for temperature control among many other high tech things (Name starts with H – you fill in the rest). I designed, installed, and maintained dozens of energy management systems in commercial buildings. Peak demand control was one of the ways we would save customers a guaranteed amount and we met or exceeded our quarterly guarantee almost every time except for a very few cases. We did optimum start/stop and duty cycling of loads, too, but >>everything was referenced to space temperature<<. You don't mess with temperatures too much in a hospital, even when the dry bulb is 98F and the dewpoint is 76F.

    There are ways to make this energy management idea work without becoming the thermostat police in somebody's home, but it sounds like this utility isn't willing to do it right.

    I've got a two stage heat pump. I'm willing to let the power company lock out my second stage of cooling, which I rarely use anyway, but not both stages. That ain't happening in Alabama in July.
    .

Panhandle Frank | September 3, 2022 at 10:37 am

Reference the accompanying photo: Anyone who goes about looking like that (shaved sides with dreadlock ponytail pulled through the back of your cap) with is just dumb enough to buy the state’s/power company’s “incentives,” and deserves to suffer the consequences.

The Gentle Grizzly | September 3, 2022 at 11:35 am

In the interests of full disclosure, I just recalled something. When I lived in the part of Johnson City served by BrightRidge, they offered me a $40 rebate to fit a device to my water heater. This device, should the local line loads go above a certain level, would shut off power to the water heater for no longer than 90 minutes, regardless.

Forty bucks is not much, but also thrown into the deal was free element and thermostat replacement, with a fast response time. So, I decided, “Why not?”

I lived in that house for a bit more than three years. If that thing ever kicked in i am not aware of it. Annnddd… Two thermostats and one element were replaced, with no arguments, no “yes, but…”. The only thing not covered was leakage, and as the tank itself was in sound condition, no big deal.

I really don’t see a problem with a voluntary program like this. I do see a problem with accepting the payment and then complaining, ” I didn’t know they could do that!” Did you think they were giving you free money?

I suppose next we’ll hear some sob story about “my mother lives with me because her health is frail, and then I signed up for this program because $$, and how was I to know the utility could then prevent me from using my A.C.?” Why would you sign up for something like this if a member of your household is medically frail?

BTW, these are not so easily defeated as merely routing around the thermostat. At least here, I saw a device that disconnected the 220 VAC from the A.C. compressor and I’d certainly not be surprised if the device tattles to the utility if you attempt to route power around it.