28 May 2010

Smart Grid Features Available Now!

In Wednesday's mail (2010/05/25) was the scariest piece of literature I've seen in a long time. No, it was not a piece of political campaign literature, although our primary is less than two weeks away. (I voted early, as soon as the polling place opened on the first day of early voting, so I simply throw away all candidates' mailings I receive.)

No, this was an offer from the utility company to participate in the "Cool Share" program. Just for signing up, we would be supplied with a "web-programmable thermostat"! These thermostats "can cut your cooling and heating costs by as much as 10% annually", according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy. And they allow me--and who knows how many bureaucrats--to manage my home's energy use. Remotely. From the internet. Regardless of how I've set it.

Now, they are careful to point out--on the reverse side--that these thermostats "do NOT allow [the utility company] to 'control' your home temperature". They say nothing about other organizations, such as the Department of Energy.

Of course, one of the bullet point advantages of these thermostats is that they "help…Reduce greenhouse gas emissions".

In a sidebar on that side, there is an explanation that in the Cool Share program, when it is very hot (104°F and above), the air conditioning unit will be placed in "conservation mode" for generally no more than three hours. They claim that this would typically happen only on weekdays, not weekends or holidays, except in case of…wait for it…"emergency."

As an additional enticement, participants can get $1.00 for each of these "conservation period[s]", up to a maximum of $29.

UPDATE 2010/06/12 I received a card in the mail explaining that this program is available only in Southern Nevada. That explains the references to 104° temperatures.