An energy company in Colorado shut down access to 22,000 customers’ smart thermostats on Tuesday, citing an “energy emergency” as temperatures reportedly reached 90 degrees.
Xcel’s thermostat lockout involved customers who participate in a voluntary program that offers money in exchange for giving up control of their thermostat to save energy, KMGH-TV reported. Xcel gives these customers $100 for signing up to the program and $25 a year thereafter.
This week’s shutdown was the only time in the program’s six-year history that customers couldn’t override their smart thermostats, an Xcel vice president told KMGH-TV.
“Let’s remember that this is something that customers choose to be a part of based on the incentives,” said Emmett Romine, Xcel vice president of customer solutions and innovation. “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.”
The “energy emergency” was based on high temperatures and air conditioner usage that created an outage in Pueblo, Colorado, Romine said.
Participating customers told KMGH-TV that they didn’t see an emergency reason for the shutdown.
“Even if it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon situation, it just doesn’t sit right with us to not be able to control our own thermostat in our house,” said Tony Talarcio.