Last week, when temperatures rose to triple digits in parts of Texas, residents were urged to reduce electricity use due to “tight grid conditions.”
That included a recommendation from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, better known as ERCOT, that people set their thermostats at 78 degrees or higher.
In some cases that thermostat adjustment was done for them.
Numerous Texans reported that their pre-set thermostat temperatures were turned up remotely by their power companies without their consent. It turns out, they likely did give consent but weren't aware of it.
For instance, CPS Energy’s website plainly states that customers who obtain a smart thermostat agree to allow the power company to make adjustments to their thermostats during “conservation events.”
Those conservation events, such as the one that occurred in Texas last week, “will likely happen several times during the summer months and typically occurs between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday,” CPS Energy states.
CPS Energy does say that customers can opt out of remote thermostat adjustments through their thermostats or smart phone apps and return temperatures to their desired settings.
It appears many Texans were caught off guard when the remote adjustments were made or possibly were asleep.
Another program, Smart Savers Texas, also permits remote adjustment of thermostats during peak energy usage events. The program includes entry in a sweepstakes with a $5,000 prize.
According to the ERCOT, forced generation outages last week combined with record potential electric use for the month of June resulted in tight power grid conditions. Most of Texas is on its own power grid, which ERCOT oversees. The agency came under a great deal of scrutiny in February when a winter storm resulted in millions of Texans losing power. At least 150 people died.
“Generator owners have reported approximately 11,000 MW of generation is on forced outage for repairs; of that, approximately 8,000 MW is thermal and the rest is intermittent resources. According to the summer Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy, a typical range of thermal generation outages on hot summer days is around 3,600 MW. One MW typically powers around 200 homes on a summer day,” the agency wrote.
August is typically the hottest month of the year in Texas, and it’s possible ERCOT could enact another “Conservation Alert.” You may not even need to adjust your thermostat.