Over 22,000 Xcel AC Rewards customers found themselves locked out of their smart thermostats for hours on Tuesday, according to Denver7.
Participants in the Xcel AC Rewards program, all of who are volunteers, lost the ability to control their “smart” home thermostats during hot summer days temperatures rose into the 90s. Xcel seized control and locked thermostats, citing an “emergency situation.”
“This was a very unique circumstance where we had to call this,” said Emmett Romine, Xcel’s vice president of customer solutions said.
Romine said that all customers signed up to the program on a voluntary basis and received perks such as $100 credit for enrolling and then $25 on a yearly basis.
“It’s a voluntary program. Let’s remember that this is something that customers choose to be a part of based on the incentives,” Romine said. “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.”
Romine also defended by program by saying that this was the first time in six years that customers were unable to override their thermostats and that the “energy emergency” was a combination of hot weather and increased air conditioner usage.
“This is not something we see ourselves triggering very often in the future. This is a scenario we don’t want to use,” Romine said.
Program participant Tony Talarico said he was unaware that he could be locked out of the thermostat. Talarico said he has solar panels and a smart thermostat to save energy, however he said he did not enrol in this program to have so much control taken away.
“To me, an emergency means there is, you know, life, limb, or, you know, some other danger out there — some, you know, massive wildfires. 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,” Talarico said.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE DENVER CHANNEL
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