Utility Company Locks Customers’ Smart Thermostats Due to ‘Energy Emergency’

(TND) A utility company prevented thousands of customers in Colorado from changing the temperature on their smart thermostats due to an “energy emergency,” leaving customers upset and confused.

Minneapolis-based utility company Xcel confirmed to KMGH-TV in Denver that 22,000 customers who had signed up for the Colorado AC Rewards program had their smart thermostats locked. The program gives customers a discounted rate but forces them to relinquish some control of their devices to Xcel.

“I mean, it was 90 out, and it was right during the peak period. It was hot,” Xcel customer Tony Talarico said. “Normally, when we see a message like that, we’re able to override it. In this case, we weren’t. So, our thermostat was locked in at 78 or 79.”

Talarico reportedly told KMGH-TV he had no idea Xcel could lock his thermostat.

Other customers reportedly complained of temperatures getting as high as 88 degrees in their homes after their thermostats were locked.

But Xcel insisted that the program was completely voluntary, and the discounted rates come with certain measures that allow the company to conserve energy and money.

“Let’s remember that this is something that customers choose to be a part of based on the incentives,” Vice President of Customer Solutions and Innovation at Xcel, Emmett Romine, said, according to KMGH.

“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.”