22,000 Colorado Residents Prevented from Turning Up Air Conditioning during ‘Energy Emergency’

Xcel Energy, an electric provider based in Colorado, prevented 22,000 people from using their thermostats on Tuesday due to an “energy emergency.”

Tuesday was a particularly hot day in the state, with temperatures reaching the nineties.

Colorado resident Tony Talarico told the Denver Channel that he was met with an “energy emergency” alert when he tried to cool down his partner’s house. “I mean, it was 90 out, and it was right during the peak period,” Talarico said. “It was hot.”

“Normally, when we see a message like that, we’re able to override it,” he continued. “In this case, we weren’t. So, our thermostat was locked in at 78 or 79.” Other Xcel users reported on social media that they also were unable to turn up the air conditioning.

The affected Xcel customers had signed up for program with the company that entitled them to $100 enrollment credit and $25 annually in exchange for forfeiting some control over their thermostats.

“It’s a voluntary program. Let’s remember that this is something that customers choose to be a part of based on the incentives,” Emmett Romine, vice president of customer solutions and innovation at Xcel, told the Channel.

Romine said it’s not typical for customers to not be able to access their smart thermostats, adding that this was a unique event that can be attributed to an unexpected outage in a nearby area, as well as intense heat and heavy air conditioner usage.

“To me, an emergency means there is, you know, life, limb, or, you know, some other danger out there — some, you know, massive wildfires,” said Talarico. “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.”

Industry experts have warned that residents in parts of Texas, the Midwest and the South could face increased electricity blackouts because of the the summer heat’s role in spiking demand for energy.

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