From the Big Brother Department:
According to a story in the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is recruiting participants in it new “Power Partners Project” which will allow “customers to receive goal-setting and performance-tracking tools, personalized energy-efficiency suggestions and expert advice.” That’s the carrot. “The new TEP Power Partners Project is being funded through a $500,000 U.S. Department of Energy Smart Grid Data Access Award and administrative funding from the Governor’s Of f ice of Energy Policy, with matching funding from TEP and Colorado-based Tendril.” Apparently Tendril is a company that manufactures smart meter devices.
The stick is that the program involves installation of “smart meters” and a control on your air conditioner. This allows TEP to remotely turn off your air conditioner or adjust your thermostat during periods of high electricity demand. During a pilot program last summer, TEP exercised this ability eight times among participants.
This program is made necessary by Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) and this phase is called demand side management (DSM). According to the Arizona Corporation Commission: “Arizona’s public utilities will be required to achieve annual energy savings of at least 22%, measured in kWh, by 2020, with the savings to increase incrementally as a percent of retail energy sales in each prior calendar year to reach that goal.”
One of the ways to achieve DSM is through use of the so-called “smart grid” and “smart meters.” Smart meters placed on your house or business will allow the electric company to monitor and control your electricity use via radio/internet-controlled commands to your meter. If you use too much air-conditioning, for instance, the electric company will be able to turn it off.
Because these systems are controlled over the internet, they are vulnerable to mischief by hackers who may decide to turn off the A/C in a shopping mall or neighborhood.
You can sign up for the program at https://enroll.teppowerpartners.com/ Be sure to read the customer agreement. One of the caveats is: “I understand that it is my responsibility to manage my electricity consumption and that participating in this pilot will not guarantee lower bills.”