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Arizona Trialing System That Lets Utility System Control Home A/Cs

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the so-you-preferred-the-brownouts-sir dept.

Power 393

AzTechGuy writes "Arizona Public Service Co., Arizona's largest power company, is implementing a test program that would put customers' thermostats under their control to help balance power needs during critical peak usage times. APS will be able to remote control the customers' thermostats to control power draw from their A/C when there is a critical power transmission issue on the grid. Customers will be able to override these settings if they desire."

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Maryland already has this (4, Informative)

dunc78 (583090) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963960)

BGE already does this in Maryland.

Re:Maryland already has this (2, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964026)

They also have it in Southern California. We opted out. My mother is 90 and my sister has MS and can't handle hot weather very well. Me, I think it's a stupid idea for consumers.

Re:Maryland already has this (4, Informative)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964136)

Austin Energy has been giving out free 7-day programmable thermostats for years, with the caveat being that they can control them when necessary to balance load.

This is nothing new to see here, move along territory.

Re:Maryland already has this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964522)

if you're a nigger you can always use your welfare checks to pay for your power bill

Re:Maryland already has this (4, Insightful)

D'Sphitz (699604) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964138)

Why is it a stupid idea? It beats losing your power altogether, doesn't it? I imagine this would mostly affect people who are at work all day with the central air running full blast, the people who are home would just override it.

Re:Maryland already has this (-1, Troll)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964180)

It's a stupid idea because it's your house and your money that pays the electric bill. Instead of trying to figure out new ways to charge more for less, the power companies need to be building more capacity so that you can have your air conditioning on however you want it without bringing down the grid.

In ./ parlance, this is stupid the same way download caps on your broadband are stupid.

Re:Maryland already has this (5, Informative)

fireduck (197000) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964226)

Except, at least with the deal we got from So Cal Edison, we give them the right to shut off our air conditioner in exchange for a discount on our summer electric bill. I don't recall exactly how much of a discount on the energy they gave us, but considering that they never once actually killed our air con during the summer, I have no complaints whatsoever.

Re:Maryland already has this (1)

popeye44 (929152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964580)

Here's the problem I have, PGE here. I kept my house at 82degrees last July. "1800sq ft house" 847.00 electric bill"so called smart metering". If I give PGE control they will move it up or down but never as high as 82. I'd still be getting fucked. Most of July I was paying 48c per Kwh. The real pisser is.. the majority of the year I pay 190-250mo power. But this climate hits 100 daily during July and August who can afford to keep cool?

Re:Maryland already has this (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964234)

Parent is -1 Troll.

Smoothing out peaks in ways that minimally impact people is a great idea economically and environmentally.

Re:Maryland already has this (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964546)

It is a 'great' idea 'economically' to the providers of electricity. They can get away with NOT building more power plants. Charge more for the same service. THEN turn around and turn it off and still charge you for it. Big deal I get 2-10 bucks off my monthly bill while I am roasting in the middle of the day. Then taking that same power they would have sold to you and selling it to that new shiney data center in your area for 2x the cost.

It is a monopoly. They are going to do monopolistic things to maximize profit. This is one of them. It is a simple money grab (do not let the small 'discount' fool you). They are not doing it because it is 'good for the environment.' Good for the environment would be building more nuke plants/solar/thermal and not wringing every last dollar out of the 1930's tech 40-60 year old coal/natural gas plants.

Re:Maryland already has this (2, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964242)

"Don't allow the power companies to lower your power consumption (and the price you pay) when the system is on the verge of overload! Get higher capacity lines so we can burn more fossil fuels! Don't invest in renewable, just in methods to deliver more conventional power!"

I mean, I don't necessarily agree with the power companies being able to control your power like that; I'm just pointing out what your argument is in real terms.

I think I may, however, agree with a long-term override (aka opt-out) switch with this system, included in the current plan. I also may be inclined to agree with allowing for load-balancing (without them being able to change temperature) to reduce peaks and valleys.

Re:Maryland already has this (3, Insightful)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964280)

In ./ parlance, this is stupid the same way download caps on your broadband are stupid.

Which ISP is it, again, that lets you override download caps at will? I think that's an excellent idea-they can cap it, you say "override", no longer capped. There's also the fact that except during the highest peak periods, a lot of Net capacity remains unused, which is not true of energy.

This is probably for the morons who can't throttle back the A/C before leaving for work and wait 20 minutes for it to cool down after they get home. If it's just got to be cool when you walk in the door, get a programmable thermostat.

Re:Maryland already has this (1)

Serician (1296775) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964084)

And in Ontario, but I don't think you have the option of overriding it (short of unplugging their fancy new thermostat and sticking the old one back on). Ontario Hydro also gives you a $25 credit on your bill: WOO HOO! WATCH OUT! BIG SPENDERS!

Not worth it for a new thermostat.

Re:Maryland already has this (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964372)

Yes, you can override in Ontario if needed. And you get better rates on off peak hours, instead of a higher flat rate.

It really is a good idea.

Re:Maryland already has this (2, Interesting)

Xeno man (1614779) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964590)

Yes you can override it. Seams like every moron believes that they are giving up control of their thermostat and that they just shut it off. What they do is raise the temperature by a few degrees so AC units are not working as hard and as much. It's a small reduction of power but multiply it by a few thousand homes and it's enough to shave off the peaks during high usage. And as far as I'm aware in Ontario, they have only send the signal a few times each year so it's not a daily thing.

The credit on your bill is just a incentive to get the thermostat. The real saving is when you program you stat so your ac isn't cooling the house all day when your not around instead of having your old manual stat set to 15 deg C all day long.

Re:Maryland already has this (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964512)

So does Pepco (also in MD). My thermostat can be set for an hour to 50, 25 or 0% of the previous hour's usage during peak load times, to help them meet peak demand without adding new capacity. The program I'm on only takes effect in the summer. They installed the thermostat for me, and I think (they never say exactly) that it uses a pager style radio to get the message to cut back the a/c. I'm interested to see how it works out - we don't really care about a few degree rise on the hottest days.

Old news (2, Informative)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963964)

They've been doing this in Toronto for a long time.

Since customers can override the system.... (3, Interesting)

Zanth_ (157695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963966)

It seems like a convenient method of limiting brown-outs. The privacy implications may be enormous for some but for others it will appear to be a good idea particularly since folks can override the system.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (4, Interesting)

deep_creek (1001191) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963998)

wonder what the surcharge charge/penalty fee is for overriding the setting?

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (5, Insightful)

notommy (1793412) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964024)

What exactly are your enormous privacy concerns? This already exists here in toronto. This works well. The truth is, when they raise the temperature in your ac for a period of time, you don't notice it because the temperature change in your home is not instantaneous. By the time you notice the small change, if you do at all, it'll be back to your original setting.

The blurb makes it sound sinister IMo with stuff like "under their control". They're just trying to control the peaks so everyone has power.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (0, Flamebait)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964072)

What exactly are your enormous privacy concerns? This already exists here in toronto. This works well. The truth is, when they raise the temperature in your ac for a period of time, you don't notice it because the temperature change in your home is not instantaneous. By the time you notice the small change, if you do at all, it'll be back to your original setting.

The blurb makes it sound sinister IMo with stuff like "under their control". They're just trying to control the peaks so everyone has power.

You may not notice it in Toronto where the high is 75, but where I'm at in Texas, it will be noticed when the LOW is 95!

Didn't I just read about 300 Slashdotters commenting that AGW was NOT about governments wanting to take more power. Now they are telling me what the temperature is in my home. Next they will tell me how much salt I can have on my food. What's after that?

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (2, Interesting)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964112)

This isn't about AGW. It's about it being cheaper to make customers uncomfortably hot than to provide adequate power.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964276)

I like the idea of them being able to schedule air conditioners together to reduce variance in power requirements throughout the day. I don't agree with them being able to change the average temperature or shut off your AC completely, without a free (in terms of not having a surcharge) long-term (not one that needs to be set daily) opt-out (switch?) though.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964634)

Personally, I like the idea of you needing to override it in person - helps ensure that you're actually there to enjoy the lower temperatures.

Of course, my first thoughts about this system was that you wouldn't even notice the shut-offs in many variations of my dream house - most have fairly massive amounts of thermal mass incorporated into the design. So yeah, I could set up my AC/Heating system to only operate when electricity is least in demand, smoothing peaks, allowing the electricity companies to get away with less standby power, meaning fewer generators, more green power, more efficiency in the generation.

It'd be something of a trickle-down, but cheaper in the end.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (1)

rssrss (686344) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964428)

Dude: Word.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (0, Redundant)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964524)

It's about handling overloads gracefully instead of failing catastrophically.

But I would rather have a "smart grid" that tells my thermostat how much power is costing right now, and I decide when enough is enough.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964464)

Now they are telling me what the temperature is in my home. Next they will tell me how much salt I can have on my food. What's after that?

Charging a fine for every argument based on the slippery-slope fallacy?

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964594)

It's not a slippery slope when they are currently mulling it over - see for example:

In all seriousness, this won't be bad for now as we had or nearly had enough energy production available to meet current peak demand. Once the electric companies are able to reduce capacity (really allow demand to increase without increasing capacity) from 99 or 100% to 95 or 90% of peak demand we will likely start to notice. Unfortunately, at that point we are locked in and can't escape it. Similarly, as this becomes the norm, those "discounted prices" will rise to the current rates and those "non-discounted prices" will become heavily penalized prices.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (1)

Capt. Skinny (969540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964606)

The slippery-slope fallacy is a fallacy. If I wanted to knock you down without a sudden jolt, I'd push you down a slippery slope. If I wanted to rise up without immediate notice, I'd use the thin edge of a wedge. It's a perfectly valid argument.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (1)

Fremandn (316311) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964602)

I tend to think of this as being more like network flow control. If the server is overwhelmed with requests it can tell the client to back-off for a bit. Sure the client can keep on hammering the server, but then everyone loses. If the power grid goes down most lose more than a few degrees of comfort.

It also seems silly to create excess capacity for a few peaks during the year. Perhaps they can get away with batteries or other energy stores instead of power plants. However, if the extra capacity/storage is only needed for a few days of the year and the expense can be avoided using a voluntary mechanism, why not implement it?

Additionally, think of this as using individual homes as storage banks. Perhaps the power company can anticipate demand and overheat or overcool your home allowing for more room to cut power later on.

I think the voluntary nature of this arrangement needs to be maintained. What if you decide to start up your home Beowolf cluster on the hottest day of the year.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (1)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964182)

Toronto... Toronto... so is that a small town just outside of Phoenix? I can't think of a Toronto where you can die from heat exhaustion.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (3, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964272)

I'm in Toronto, Ontario. It's about 8C out. Last night I left my AC off and I woke up drenched in sweat. I have no control over the heat in my apartment other than running the AC.

It does get sweltering hot here, but the problem is moreso the humidity than the actual temperature.

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964450)

Last night I left my AC off and I woke up drenched in sweat.

Stop having those kinds of dreams or you'll go blind!

Re:Since customers can override the system.... (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964530)

If it's like my system, the thermostat gets a radio signal to turn itself down. I don't think there's a privacy implication, I'd bet the only way they'd know if you overrode it is that your power usage would increase. I imagine that they're betting that most people won't actually override it; I can't see myself bothering, if I even noticed it.

Only one problem I can see.... (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963984)

Your "peak periods" will correspond quite well with when it's 110 degrees in the shade... exactly when you want the AC the most.

Re:Only one problem I can see.... (2, Insightful)

Gertlex (722812) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964152)

It'll also be the middle of the day. For quite a large number of residential locations, the home will be empty. Doesn't matter if the house gets a bit warm while you're not there... If you're there, override it!

Re:Only one problem I can see.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964396)

while they let you.. eventually this will be mandated and control WILL Be taken away. step by step by step..

Re:Only one problem I can see.... (1, Interesting)

Necron69 (35644) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964418)

I'm guessing you've never owned a poorly designed, older home.

My old house had to be kept at 72F at all times, or the AC simply could not keep up. Once the inside temp was allowed to creep up even a few degrees, the AC would just run non-stop until it froze solid. Then you had to turn it off, open the windows, and live with 90+ degree inside temps until you could crank up the AC again the next morning.

I'm sure there are all sorts of expensive, technical solutions to this problem, but at the time, it was far cheaper to just keep the AC on all the time in the summer. I repeatedly told Xcel Energy to f*ck off when they tried to get to enroll in the AC switch off program.

Necron69

Re:Only one problem I can see.... (4, Insightful)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964448)

I'm sure there are all sorts of expensive, technical solutions to this problem

Insulation?

Caulking?

Re:Only one problem I can see.... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964618)

Doesn't matter if the house gets a bit warm while you're not there...

True of people, not necessarily true of pets.

better suited... (1)

gerf (532474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964220)

If this were used for recharging Chevy Volts, or cooling deep freezers.

Re:Only one problem I can see.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964346)

As opposed to the old system where in the middle of the day you'd get a brown-out, lose AC, and possibly damage your entire system?

Re:Only one problem I can see.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964600)

Lets see they have a peek power demand due to excessive AC use. Probably because people want to be cool in their houses. So we have demand, so much demand that it out strips the systems ability to provide causing shortages. This means that theoretically they can damn well charge whatever they want to (minus whatever regulations didn't get pounded after AZ became a super red state). So we have demand, if only there was a technology that we could sell the consumer.

Here is a fucking idea. Solar thermal power plant!

Wait, crap, that doesn't run on coal or the souls of brown people. Fuck it then.

Right... (2, Insightful)

cephalien (529516) | more than 4 years ago | (#31963986)

Because when it's 104 degrees in Arizona, the people trialing this system will be content to let the power company turn their A/C down.

No, what'll happen is that all the people enrolled will just override the suggested settings, meaning that they'll have spent the money and still end up having brownouts.

I don't see this as being a smart move from -any- standpoint, unless you marketed it as a way for the power company to turn down the A/C units of homeowners who might not -be- at home during a peak time, but have left their systems running.

Having said that, anyone with pets will tell you that it can get hot enough that they need to be cooled-off too.

Re:Right... (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964042)

a lot of the time people set their AC to 19c, when 23c is just as comfortable but will save shit loads of power if everyone does it. as long as you can just override this with your normal air con remote i don't see a problem

Re:Right... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964458)

What can a utility do?
Suburbia is filled with older, low end, low efficiency units.
If they fail, they might be replaced with new, low cost, no "brand", low efficiency units.
The feds could set strict new minimum energy performance numbers for any AC units sold/installed/imported in the US. The press would note how the poor people suffer and rust belt manufactures lobby hard in marginal electorates.
Think "Obamacooling" with Fox outside an overflowing morgue, "capitalism was not allowed to offer "freedom of choice" cheap no efficiency AC anymore or a teabagging Joe the AC man.

Re:Right... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964476)

Because when it's 104 degrees in Arizona, the people trialing this system will be content to let the power company turn their A/C down.

No, what'll happen is that all the people enrolled will just override the suggested settings, meaning that they'll have spent the money and still end up having brownouts.

... provided they're all home. Since it tends to hit 104 in the middle of the day, a large percentage - even the majority - are at work. If even half the population isn't home to override the settings, this will save a ton of money.

deja news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964006)

I am in Toronto and have had this for 2 years. What other breaking news is lurking around the corner? New, the amazing VCR records TV shows while you play with your slinky?

I'm not worried because... (1)

webbiedave (1631473) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964016)

... my fridge has door on it.

Re:I'm not worried because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964056)

In soviet russia, door fridge you!

Look.... (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964020)

Look, if I'm paying for power, in a government granted monopoly (as most power companies are) I'd better be able to use it how I wish, while paying for it with a reasonable fee based on what I use. If they can't provide what I'm paying for they should either A) Improve the service, B) allow other competitors C) be sued by their "customers". If we had -choice- in power companies, this might not be so bad, but sure, we have an override button in 2010... but in 2020 will we?

It is the most basic of rights to be able to use what you pay for. In many cases, if you don't like what a company wants you to do, you have action, you can A) change to a competitor or B) go without it. If I don't like Sony's policies on firmware updates for the PS3, I can just as easily buy a 360, Wii, or even decide not to buy a game console. But when it comes to electricity, theres no other providers and its just about impossible to go without electricity in 2010 (even most Amish will have electricity in their outbuildings).

Don't cry monopoly. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964174)

Bullshit.

You CAN go off grid. If I lived Arizona, I'd totally slap a couple of solar panels on my roof and hook those up to the AC. Don't give me this whiny "oh, but they have a monooooooooopoly" tripe. It's only a monopoly if you're too lazy or cheap to use the alternative energy sources. Especially not in a prime solar location.

Re:Don't cry monopoly. (4, Informative)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964596)

You got a spare 30k to put down for that? Or are you just talking out of your ass?

Re:Look.... (2, Insightful)

stabiesoft (733417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964256)

Before you piss all over the idea, consider which you would prefer. You can either A) pay 2X as much for juice during peak time so the utility can afford to have enough peak capacity or B) let the utility come up with some creative ways to reduce peak demand, such as cutting the A/C for about 5 minutes every 30 if they need to. (I think that is austin energy's method) Further, Austin Energy does not require you to install their thermostat, they will give you a free one if you do want theirs.

Clearly, you prefer method A, but I happen to like B. And in case your wondering, Austin Enrgy has nearly the lowest rates in TX, is a monopoly, is run by the city whereas Dallas rates are around 2X higher as a minimum, they have choice, and the choices are not run by the city and are private. I'll stay in austin thanks. You can live in Dallas if you want with your precious choices.

Re:Look.... (1)

HForN (1095499) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964380)

There is a good reason why most public utilities are monopolies. There is a huge cost of entry for competitors, and even if the government subsidized the cost, it would still be more efficient to have a regulated monopoly than two or more.

Re:Look.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964456)

I really doubt this would become a mandatory program that all customers would have to enroll in. ComEd has a similar program in Illinois (it has been around for a while) and I've never heard of anyone using it or being forced to use it. In addition, even under this program, you have the option to override what the power company is requesting and run your A/C anyway.

Re:Look.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964532)

People that cry 'but I'm paying for it' give me the shits. You clearly are not paying enough to afford an improvement in service you propose or they would do that wouldn't they? A move to a more efficient solution with minimal cost and impact is an elegant solution that is better for customers, the planet and the electricity provider. They should be applauded.

Re:Look.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964582)

read the fucking article, limp dick. it's a voluntary program. stop bitching like a 4 year old girl.

Remember, Slashdot does not have a -1 disagree moderation, and no, troll, flamebait, and overrated are not substitutes.

what excuse do you have for mouthing off even though you obviously didn't bother to read the article? hopefully your ass gets modded down for the simple fact that the entire premise of your post is wrong. it's fucking WRONG and you're an asshole, asshole. an eight year old retard could have glanced at this article and seen what kind of total fucking asshat you are.

It's not as dramatic as you think. (1)

nickruiz (1185947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964626)

I worked for an IT organization that supported the IT functions of many energy suppliers in deregulated markets. While some people might complain about these programs, they are typically opt-in programs, and if you're a savvy energy customer, you will understand how these programs can save you money in the long run. While many people might be concerned that the utility will turn off their electricity, in reality, it is much more likely that the utility will just turn up your thermostat a couple of degrees. Chances are, they will probably first target the thermostats of the households whose thermostat readings deviate from some average temperature. Many people would not find a degree or two warmer as big of a problem, if they understand that they will be saving a lot of money on their bill. The idea is to reduce the on-peak demand on the utility's infrastructure, to prevent brown-outs or power failures.

That being said, the customer deserves to know on their bill when the utility has adjusted their thermostats. The customer should be able to review their usage each month and make decisions either to change their usage habits, or change their pricing plan to better meet their needs. Time of usage interval billing is a good strategy to save a customer money -- but only if they are willing to take the time to understand their usage patterns and it allows suppliers to avoid purchasing/generating more electricity than their territory needs. In a given month, an energy supplier has to supply as much electricity as the highest demand at a given time. This is an oversimplification, but it basically means that the supplier could end up generating energy that nobody needs. Since they generally can't store the energy somewhere, it will go to waste.

Also, in many places, customers are allowed to shop around and go with an energy supplier that gives them a lower rate. I'm not certain about Arizona's legislation, but places like Texas and areas in the Northeast allow competition and the suppliers generally try to create pricing plans that factor in time-of-use billing to reduce their costs and save certain types of customers money. Though, most competition targets the Commercial and Industrial sector, since that's where the money is generally made.

Re:Look.... (2, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964638)

It is the most basic of rights to be able to use what you pay for.

You aren't paying for it, though. You're charged a fee, which very likely doesn't cover the costs of delivery. And it certainly doesn't remotely cover what they would have had to pay for right-of-way access without the government monopoly status...

You see, there are plenty of people out there who need electricity, and CAN'T pay the fair-market value of it. Saying you should be able to do whatever you want with it is simply saying you want to price OTHERS out of the market. Sure, poor people just shouldn't have heating and air conditioning... Those medicare leeches should just suck it up when their power gets cut for non-payment, and their kidney dialysis machine stops working. Sucks to be you. Welcome to the free market, suckers!

Somehow I don't believe for a second you'd be singing the praises of the free market if you were forced to pay for a new electric meter which records peak/off-peak usage, and charges accordingly. And when you found yourself paying 100X as much to power your AC in the afternoon, you'd be clamoring for the power company to cut your AC by 2% to get that bill back down.

And it's certainly not just electricity. Just wait until you run into a drought, and you are no longer allowed to water your lawn... Then again, this same system forces those that live around the lake you're draining to give you water, no matter how much they might want to charge you for their water...

But hey, you can go buy bottled water to do the job, right? And car batteries are only $50 a shot, just connect them to a massive inverter and your AC will churn right along until it comes time to swap the batteries. No monopoly there, that's for sure...

We've had this in IL for 15 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964022)

that is all. It is optional, works well, saves money. win-win

Yawn, this technology has been around for 60 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964040)

Load control using superimposed audio frequency signals over the powerlines has been around since the 1950’s.

What is more interesting are some of the ideas been bandied around with smart networks, smart houses, and internet everywhere. Imagine the electric car in your garage being recharged off the grid. Then, a large generator fails. Automatically a signal is sent out. All of the electric vehicles stop drawing power off the grid and reverse to push stored power out of their battery to prop up the grid. All pipe dream stuff now ... but in the future???

Re:Yawn, this technology has been around for 60 ye (3, Insightful)

cyp43r (945301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964120)

The next day, nobody goes to work as they haven't got enough battery power in their cars.

Re:Yawn, this technology has been around for 60 ye (3, Funny)

toadlife (301863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964192)

The next day, nobody goes to work as they haven't got enough battery power in their cars.

Which would save even MORE energy!

Brilliant!

Re:Yawn, this technology has been around for 60 ye (1)

Metrathon (311607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964508)

Bah, we had this in Sweden 150 years ago.

Guess what state isn't getting MY money? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964052)

Yep... you guessed it.

When are states going to realize that allowing draconian crap like this DRIVES PEOPLE AWAY AND LOWERS YOUR STATE
'S OVERALL PRODUCTIVITY! Even worse.... SMART PEOPLE MOVE AWAY!

Idiots.

Re:Guess what state isn't getting MY money? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964086)

Arizona is 75% unemployed/unemployable Mexicans and anchor babies, with the remaining 25% being retired seniors.

No matter what they do, it can't really get much worse for them. You can't destroy an economy that basically doesn't exist.

Nuke'em from the orbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964062)

This from the supposedly a (the?) "free" western state.

Fucking losers. Fucking zonies.

Close, but no cigar. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964070)

This is a very shortsighted approach. Energy needs change over time: right now, the biggest draw on the Arizona grid may be AC units, but in 5 or 10 years it may be electric cars being recharged during the night. The real solution are smart meters, displaying the current (pun intended!) consumption and, more importantly, the cost. Make the cost variable - charge more at peak hours, less when there is less demand. People will figure out the best time to run the appliances and chargers, and what temperature to keep their place at.

Instead of wasting time on a controller for a single appliance, the providers should be concentrating deploying more smart meters and making them less prone to hacking.

Re:Close, but no cigar. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964158)

You've obviously not been to Phoenix in the summer. In 5 or 10 years, it will still be hot as hell.

Re:Close, but no cigar. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964492)

If the heat is so unbearable, move.

Just build nuclear power plants already... (4, Insightful)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964092)

It would create jobs... and energy...

Sounds like a GREAT FUCKING IDEA TO ME.

Re:Just build nuclear power plants already... (-1, Flamebait)

Kenja (541830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964122)

Kay, we'll keep the spent fissionable material in your house. Sound good?

Re:Just build nuclear power plants already... (4, Insightful)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964190)

How about we keep the fissionable material in the fission reactor. It might actually generate electricity there.

Re:Just build nuclear power plants already... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964216)

Sure, put it in my back yard, I don't care. The containment is WAY good enough, and I don't plan to live for geologic time periods.

I'll put a proviso in the sales contract that the next owner has to keep an eye on it, and pass along the proviso. Kind of like the GPL.

Re:Just build nuclear power plants already... (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964504)

They ARE trying to put it in my backyard (Yucca Mountain [wikipedia.org] ) and I don't mind. However, since I don't get any power from nuclear plants, I think it's only fair that people who do should pay me a crapload of money for looking after their nuclear waste, which unfortunately they don't seem to be willing to do. Therefore I have to say the only good thing our soon to be retiring senator Reid did for Nevada was to help kill that plan.

Re:Just build nuclear power plants already... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964570)

You live in Pahrump? Tonopah? No, I thought not. So, not your backyard then.

Re:Just build nuclear power plants already... (2, Funny)

Mspangler (770054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964302)

"Kay, we'll keep the spent fissionable material in your house"

In the back yard is fine provided the waste is hot enough that it produces heat. Then I can pipe the cooling water into the house during the seven months of winter, and shut the valve and let the pond gently steam in the two weeks of summer.

Seriously, I need heat any month with an R in it, and the first half of May. Air conditioning season is about two weeks in late July, for about three hours a day.

Re:Just build nuclear power plants already... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964354)

Well, you've reached about 1955 in terms of nuclear powerstation technology.

In the past 55 years, there has been a lot of research into pebble bed reactors [wikipedia.org] , for instance. Now, this research didn't happen in the US, of course, due to your hostility towards such technology.

The rest of the world is moving on to better sources of energy, while you fools are stuck in the Coal Age or the Oil Age.

Re:Just build nuclear power plants already... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964274)

it takes at least 10 years once you've finally designated the land and it's really really expensive

and the expense is because of complex engineering not pointless safety concerns

why not subsidise all energy generation that is low on CO2 emissions and let the market sort out which ones should be built?
you could pay for that by taxing existing CO2 emissions quite modestly.

Re:Just build nuclear power plants already... (1)

cyp43r (945301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964370)

But gasp! If you do that every child in the USA will be a hideous atheist freak within 3 weeks! The only real future for our children is no electricity, just like in those glorious 1950's days!

Re:Just build nuclear power plants already... (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964384)

The local electric company Duke Energy already does that in Indiana. If you agree to allow them to install the cut off they can stop your AC for a time. They PAY THE CONSUMER to do this a monthly fee even if they never turn off your AC. I think it's a few hundred dollars a year.

Works well in Iowa (2, Informative)

rm_-fr_* (107567) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964098)

I've been in this program in central Iowa for 6 years. Has been no real pain and I get about a $40 check each year for the times they throttle me...

Re:Works well in Iowa (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964490)

the times they throttle me...

If your power company is throttling you, someone is either getting too much or not enough service out of their current electricity provider.

That, or there's yet another Iowa joke in there that I just haven't come up with yet.

Air Conditioning (1)

cyp43r (945301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964108)

I understand that without this there will be brownouts but this is exactly when AC's need to be cranked up the most. Couldn't they expand the power grid or install batteries in houses instead of not giving us power when we most want it?

Re:Air Conditioning (2, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964260)

To expand the power grid is expensive and hard to 'sell' to the shareholders.
They expect dynamic dot com era growth with anything tech they invested in.
Some US cities and areas did it right with community generators.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_cooperative [wikipedia.org]
Any profit is put back into hardware, running cost or users get some form of capital credits.
You also had Enron like profit pressure to milk demand on an old cold war grid.

Re:Air Conditioning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964520)

To expand the power grid is expensive and hard to 'sell' to the shareholders.

The shareholders? Heh. Biggest obstacles to building new power plants is the hippies, NIMBYs and treehuggers. Power companies would love to have more plants but they've got all these touchy-feely do-gooders whining about Mother Earth and global warming.

North American Grid (3, Insightful)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964186)

Instead of trying to control individual ACs like this, they should be giving out massive credits to those who go to the expense of installing solar. Even where it won't pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time, installing solar panels will make a difference (probably not so much so in places like Seattle). I would imagine that if you could get 10% of the homes in the nation (even if you were just to do that in So Cal and Arizona and other perpetually sunny places) the relief on the grid would be enormous. With advances in solar cells, combining solar and hydrogen fuel storage/use [physorg.com] , and other alternative energy technologies (wind, for example) there should be no problem in providing enough power.

The real problem is that the grid is ancient (relatively) and uses old, broken tech. Unfortunately the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" doesn't apply when you are pushing outdated technology way past its limits.

Re:North American Grid (2, Insightful)

psycho12345 (1134609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964252)

Umm most places already do give gigantic tax rebates, or straight up rebates on solar installations. Still too expensive for the average household. Not to mention I imagine most place would benefit from other upgrades before solar, such as better insulation, better windows, etc.

Re:North American Grid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964506)

We can hardly get 10% of the population to vote during non-presidential elections let alone all that would be required to set up solar.

And why should we dump money into it where it can't pay for itself? Sounds highly inefficient. That money would be used better somewhere, doubtlessly.

The real problem is that the grid is ancient (relatively) and uses old, broken tech.

You're right about that but if this move would probably be put in place even with a new grid why not go for the low hanging fruit?

Trialing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964188)

What has happened to English?

Arizona is trying the system. Try is a verb. The act of trying is called a trial. Trial is the noun form of the verb try.

Trialing is a pointless abomination: the verb form of the noun form of a verb.

Re:Trialing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31964394)

Oh, stop grammar Naziing. It annoyifies everyone.

Idaho has done this for years (2, Interesting)

Hirsto (601188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964200)

Idaho power opted for something far simpler several years ago. An exterior radio controlled override that cuts off the compressor motor (most of the load) for a maximum of 15 minutes while leaving your interior blower motor running. You don't notice a thing. If you happen to have two AC units they are alternated. This allows for much simpler peak load control of the power grid and doesn't torch off the customers.

Not surprising nor immoral (1)

Tycho (11893) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964240)

Hell, my parents have had a using a system like this since 1997, and they can't even override it. Granted, they get a discount on their electric bill. However, I'm going to guess that increasing rates hasn't worked and too many roadbloacks, for instance: regulatory, judicial, economic, and otherwise make building a new generating facilities not worth it. It also probably doesn't make sense to do when you've got several million people who have enough money to not have to care about using the set back feature on their thermostat when they are at work. It may also help if these same residents maintained their air conditioner and ventilation more often than once a decade. While you could keep raising rates, it generally starts to hurt lower income individuals.

However, I suppose one could implement a progressive billing scheme for residential customers where for instance as random numbers, the charge for the first kWh was $0.10 and the charge for the 1000th kWh was $50, the costs listed are for each kWh and not the cost of all 1000 kWh. The a monthly bill for a customer using 100 kWh would ideally be much less than 1/10 of a bill from a home using 1000 kWh. Ideally, one would be trying to cause sticker shock for the owners of the extremely wasteful homes having a $5,000 electric bill, while to offering assistance for energy saying improvements to those with lower incomes. However, if a manager tries this they should plan on laying low for a few months. No one likes being shot by a crazy person who is mumbling about the Founding Fathers, I would imagine.

Ontario has had this program since 2008 (5, Informative)

nufrosty (1569835) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964312)

You get a $25 rebate and a thermostat/switch, and they get to control your AC to adjust your temperature by 2-3 degrees. They cap the number of times the are allowed to do it at 10 times/year.

When can peaksaver be activated? on weekdays (Monday through Friday), most likely between 12:00p.m. to 6:00p.m. from May 1 to September 30. Never on weekends or holidays. for a maximum of ten activations during the summer and only for a total of four hours during any one activation. As an example; in 2008, the peaksaver program was activated only five times.

http://everykilowattcounts.ca/residential/peaksaver/understanding-electricity-demand.php [everykilowattcounts.ca]

Here in Utah... (1)

cybereal (621599) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964326)

We have this going on already. The apartment complex where I live opted everyone in. The choice to override the system is not one of going and hitting a button but one of calling the power company and opting back out. That might not be the same as this article but that's not really the point.

The real significance with the setup we have is that it's meant to replace rolling blackouts in that, instead of a full blackout, they will do rolling AC shutoffs instead. This is the first year we'll have it in place, so it remains to be seen if I will care. The facts support the suggestion that we won't even notice, though. For one, we use central air and when used properly it's maintaining temperatures all day, not just at peak times. Though it works harder at peak times, the power company's strategy is to shut it off for 10 or 15 minutes a day. The realities here are two-fold, one is, the house will not turn super hot in that time. The other is, the cooling unit for the central air is in the shade during peak hours, chances are, it will continue to remain cold. The fans are NOT disabled, and thus, the coolant will continue to do its job, probably for a good five minutes. There's also a chance that during the off time, it won't even be in use.

All of those factors, as well as some others add up to my belief that it won't impact our comfort noticeably, and if it helps out the ailing power grid, then fine. I'm all for it. I have experienced summer heat-induced power outages before and I'd rather avoid that.

Power 101 (4, Interesting)

stox (131684) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964338)

Roughly, the first 90% of the load cost is X, the next 9 to 10% cost is 10X. If you need to buy a remaining 1% on the spot market during a squeeze, the remaining 1% will cost 100X.

Being able to shed that top 1% can make a big difference.

*yawn* (0, Redundant)

Manuka (4415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964480)

Kansas City Power & Light has been doing this since 2007.

i guess... (1)

m2bord (781676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964576)

if you are an undocumented alien...you get no ac? (attempt at humor--might fail miserably)

Listen to the gray hair on this. (5, Insightful)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31964620)

It'll be voluntary today.

It'll be mandatory tomorrow.

If they weren't planning on making it mandatory, they wouldn't do it in the first place.

Seen it a billion times.

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