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California wants to control home thermostats

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SAN FRANCISCO: The conceit in the 1960s show "The Outer Limits" was that outside forces had taken control of your television set.

Next year in California, state regulators are likely to have the emergency power to control individual thermostats, sending temperatures up or down through a radio-controlled device that will be required in new or substantially modified houses and buildings to manage electricity shortages.

The proposed rules are contained in a document circulated by the California Energy Commission, which for more than three decades has set state energy efficiency standards for home appliances, like water heaters, air conditioners and refrigerators.

The changes would allow utilities to adjust customers' preset temperatures when the price of electricity is soaring. Customers could override the utilities' suggested temperatures. But in emergencies, the utilities could override customers' wishes.

Final approval is expected next month.

"You realize there are times - very rarely, once every few years - when you would be subject to a rotating outage and everything would crash including your computer and traffic lights, and you don't want to do that," said Arthur Rosenfeld, a member of the energy commission.

Reducing individual customers' electrical use - if necessary, involuntarily - could avoid that, Rosenfeld said. "If you can control rotating outages by letting everyone in the state share the pain," he said, "there's a lot less pain to go around."

While the proposals have received little attention in California, the Internet and talk radio are abuzz with indignation at the idea.

The radio-controlled thermostat is not a new technology, though it is constantly being tweaked; the latest iterations were on display this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Pacific Gas and Electric, the major utility in Northern California, already has a pilot program in Stockton that allows customers to choose to have their air-conditioning systems attached to a radio-controlled device to reduce use during periods when electricity rates are at their peak. But the idea that a government would mandate use of these devices and reserve the power to override a building owner's wishes galls some people.

"This is an outrage," one Californian said in an e-mail message to Rosenfeld. "We need to build new facilities to handle the growth in this state, not become Big Brother to the citizens of California."

The broader stir on the Internet began when Joseph Somsel, a San Jose-based contributor to the publication American Thinker, wrote an article a week ago on the programmable communicating thermostat, or PCT. Somsel went after the proposal with arguments that were by turns populist ("Come the next heat wave, the elites might be comfortably lolling in La Jolla's ocean breezes" while "the Central Valley's poor peons are baking in Bakersfield"), free-market ("PCTs will obscure the price signals to power plant developers") and civil libertarian ("the new PCT requirement certainly seems to violate the 'a man's home is his castle' common-law dictum"). Word of the California proposal hit the outrage button in corners of the Internet, was written about in The North County Times in Southern California, and got a derisive mention on Wednesday on Rush Limbaugh's radio program. The fact that similar radio-controlled technologies have been used on a voluntary basis in irrigation systems on farm fields and golf courses and in limited programs for buildings on Long Island is seldom mentioned in Internet postings that make liberal use of references to George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984" and Big Brother, the omnipresent voice of Orwell's police state. Ralph Cavanagh, an energy expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an interview that at a time of peak electricity use, "most people given a choice of 2 degrees of temperature setback and 14th-century living would happily embrace this capacity." Somsel, in an interview on Thursday, said he had done further research and was concerned that the radio signal - or the Internet instructions that would be sent, in an emergency, from utilities' central control stations to the broadcasters sending the FM signal - could be hacked into. That is not possible, said Nicole Tam, a spokeswoman for PG&E who works with the pilot program in Stockton. Radio pages "are encrypted and encoded," Tam said.

Source: International Herald Tribune

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What do you TMN members from Cali think about this proposal?

I think they need to work harder to meet the demands when the demand is up instead of taking over one's home.

Maybe Atlanta needs to install automatic wireless toilet flusher locks. :grin2:

This could solve the drought problem. :uglystupid2:

But if the system were to say bring all thermostats to a reasonable temp simultaneously and fairly, then it may not be so bad.

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Sounds along the lines of communism to me. Gov't taking control. So what next. I mean if they control that, then what next.

Just my opinion. But I would't like it. So why not just double or triple charge in times like that. For the abusers instead. And let those individuals pay for further power developement.  :uglystupid2: Thats more of a democratic way to me.

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Just set up a FAP like Hughes has. When you have used over your quota you get throttled back so the decision still is yours, air conditioning or refrigerator, hmm..what do I need the most. :undecided:

There you go, except its not totally fair to those who have larger houses. But very close indeed. But again if you could pay to upgrade, I guess that again would be fair. And still they would be paying extra for extra. I just think those who pay enough should get enough.

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Sounds along the lines of communism to me. Gov't taking control. So what next. I mean if they control that, then what next.

    Agreed!

  What else?........Let's see, how much gas you could buy, food, and credit line. Hmm, wait, were almost there anyhow, might as well comply, or face the consequences.  You'll find millions voting for it, watch.

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    Agreed!

  What else?........Let's see, how much gas you could buy, food, and credit line. Hmm, wait, were almost there anyhow, might as well comply, or face the consequences.  You'll find millions voting for it, watch.

you do know what you said about the people voting for it makes sense right....think about it this way

While the Population goes up...the IQ of these people go Down.  want proof...go to walmart at night....you'll see....or hell go to any public place....  :cry2:

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you do know what you said about the people voting for it makes sense right....think about it this way

While the Population goes up...the IQ of these people go Down.  want proof...go to walmart at night....you'll see....or hell go to any public place....  :cry2:

:haha: :haha: :haha: :haha:  Isnt that the truth!  Listen, I'm not one of those who thinks there better than the rest, but damn, No matter how I am dressed when I go there, I fell over dressed , big time. Usually the attire is sweat pants, and a stained up T shirt.  

Duke Energy has replaced all the electric meters here with digital one so they could read them from the office. No telling what else they can do from the office with these meters! :undecided:

  Makes you wonder does it not?

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Cleaner quieter energy. Like the way they force more efficients systems to be installed. Hell one good way, lower the California population?  :knuppel2:

But seriously, just more efficient ways to do things. Like all flourescent bulbs by 2009. They are facing it, but shutdown by the gov't, no f*cking way. And more zero waste electric production. Quit using coal (wow american made) and go more slolar and wind. Its being done all around the world. But not that much in the USA. Go figure where the profiteers live?  :uglystupid2:

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Cleaner quieter energy. Like the way they force more efficients systems to be installed. Hell one good way, lower the California population?  :knuppel2:

But seriously, just more efficient ways to do things. Like all flourescent bulbs by 2009. They are facing it, but shutdown by the gov't, no f*cking way. And more zero waste electric production. Quit using coal (wow american made) and go more slolar and wind. Its being done all around the world. But not that much in the USA. Go figure where the profiteers live?  :uglystupid2:

The energy efficient florescent bulbs only make sense, I will vote for that.

I started buying them about 5-6 years ago, and that's all I've installed since.

Not only because they are efficient, but they last allot longer (which will forever keep a premium price on them, unfortunately).

None have burned out in my home yet.

And as for the wind energy, I have driven across Wyoming - Utah - Idaho four times in the last 2 years and every time I have seen many trucks headed down the road with those giant wind turbine blades and the sections of the towers on the trailers.

It looks to me like the wind energy phenomenon is finally catching on around here.

In fact there is an area in Wyoming on the North side of I-80 that one can see hundreds of the towers - as far as you can see.

I should have invested in these manufacturers...

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There you go, except its not totally fair to those who have larger houses. But very close indeed. But again if you could pay to upgrade, I guess that again would be fair. And still they would be paying extra for extra. I just think those who pay enough should get enough.

A larger house usually means a larger heating and AC system so a larger allotment would need be purchased to the size. Kind of like the ones on Hughes complaining because their trying to run the larger demand on the smaller plan and getting punished for it. :knuppel2:

But then how can someone use all those large rooms in a big house, and at the same time. A dog usually gets a one room home, sometime insulated, and you never hear them complain unless you forgot to do something required of you when you have a dog. :icon_scratch:

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