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Does an Austin utility want to be able to control people’s thermostats?

Answer: Yes, but at least it’s asking clearly this time.

Closeup of someone adjusting the temperature on a smart thermostat.
Shtutterstock/jmac23
Last month during an intense heat wave, a number of Texas residents learned that they had been enrolled in a program allowing their utility provider to adjust their smart thermostats during extreme weather events. Now, Austin Energy, a publicly owned electricity provider in Austin, Texas, is asking residents to voluntarily enroll in a similar program.

Called Power Partner, Austin Energy’s program has been in place for years, but this year they are offering increased incentives for customers who sign up. From now through Sept. 6, those customers who choose to participate will earn a $130 bill credit, up from the $110 normally offered. They can also get a $25 rebate if they buy and install their smart thermostat through Austin Energy.

According to KXAN, the utility provider has offered these kinds of increased incentives in the past during the winter months, but this is the first time that they have done so during the summer. Austin Energy also clarified that it will only adjust thermostats on weekdays between June 1 and Sept. 30, and that it will only do so during peak energy usage between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. The temperature increases will not be more than 2 to 4 degrees, and they will never go above 85 degrees.
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