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'Energy Emergency': Some Denver Customers Blocked from Using A/C - CA Tells Electric Car Owners Not to Charge Them

(Photo by dhahi alsaeedi/Unsplash)

A power company in Denver, Colorado blocked thousands of customers from controlling their thermostats Tuesday after they volunteered to be part of an energy-saving program. The move came as temperatures outside soared, leaving many residents suffering in the heat. Needless to say, customers were hot literally and hot under the collar as they took to social media to complain. 

KMGH-TV reports certain Xcel customers found out they had no control over the temperature in their own homes after a message appeared on thermostats stating it was locked due to an "energy emergency."

Customers report the energy-saving program had previously allowed them to override thermostat lockdowns if they were suffering from the heat, but not this time. "Normally, when we see a message like that, we're able to override it," resident Tony Talarico told KMGH. "In this case, we weren't. So, our thermostat was locked in at 78 or 79." 

The customers shared experiences on social media, with some reporting temperatures as high as 88 degrees in their homes, the outlet reported. 

One customer tweeted, "I think it may have been even more widespread than just those in the AC rewards program. We were in the Savers Switch program until one month ago when we opted out. The box was still hooked up to our AC but 'turned off'. On Tuesday our AC was shut off for hours."

Another customer wrote, "If you think this will be limited to true 'emergency' situations going forward I have some solar power arrays in Mammoth Cave to sell you."

One customer tweeted that Americans should expect more energy emergencies as more electric cars go online, calling it, "A peek into the future of what will happen with electric cars."

An Xcel spokesman confirmed to KMGH that 22,000 customers who had signed up for the Colorado A/C Rewards program were locked out of their smart thermostats for hours on Tuesday.

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

Customers receive a $100 credit for enrolling in the program and $25 annually. Romine told the television station customers also agree to give up some control to save energy and money and make the system more reliable.

This is the first time in the program's six-year span that customers could not override their smart thermostats, Romine said. He said the "energy emergency" was due to an unexpected outage in Pueblo combined with hot weather and heavy air conditioner usage.

The "energy emergency" happened despite what Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office told KUSA-TV during an interview in February of 2021 about utilities' efforts to maintain energy reliability. Toor said utilities representing 99% of fossil generation in the state announced plans to reduce their pollution by at least 80% by 2030 by retiring older and uneconomic coal power plants and replacing them primarily with wind, solar, and battery storage.

"What we're seeing is that utilities typically are, at least for now, using natural gas combustion turbines to back up the renewables and ensure that they're able to maintain reliability while still having the vast majority of power over time coming from wind and solar. I think that we've got wind and solar resource in Colorado that is able to provide us with very high levels of renewables while still maintaining reliability," Toor said. 

California Bans Gas-Powered Cars, Tells EV Owners Not to Charge Vehicles

Meanwhile, California state officials are telling electric vehicle owners not to charge them to avoid power outages. 

A Heat Bulletin suggests Californians should, "avoid using large appliances and charging electric vehicles, and turn off unnecessary lights. Lowering electricity use during that time will ease strain on the system, and prevent more drastic measures, including rotating power outages."

The energy cutback message comes just one week after the state unveiled plans to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035, according to Deseret News.

The National Weather Service said much of California is under an excessive heat watch as temperatures are expected to climb into the 100's over Labor Day weekend. Monday could even break records. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency with temperatures expected to be 10 to 20 degrees above normal, and urged people to help reduce demand for electricity by turning their thermostats up to 85 degrees (29 Celsius) if they won't be at home over the holiday weekend.

Problems with green energy can also be found in the United Kingdom, where high energy prices are leaving almost one-fourth of the country in the cold this winter. 

A Quarter of the UK Would Rather Freeze This Winter Than Pay Skyrocketing Energy Prices

The Guardian reports that nearly one-fourth of UK adults (23%) may have to go without heating over the winter months due to skyrocketing energy costs, according to a recent poll. That figure was even higher for parents with children under the age of 18, with 27% saying they would be forced to leave the radiators cold.

The poll was conducted before the regulator Ofgem announced the energy price cap would increase by 80% in October. The decision will almost double the average gas and electricity bill from £1,971 to £3,549 ($2,269.60 to $4,086.60 in U.S. Dollars), a year, The Guardian reported. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered an energy-saving solution, urging the British people to "buy a new kettle and save £10 a year on your electricity bill."

GB News' Mark Steyn blasted Johnson's tea kettle solution for people to buy a £20 ($23 U.S.) kettle to save £10 ($11.50 U.S.) a year on energy bills.  

Steyn said Johnson is going out clinging to the eco-twaddle even though it cost him his premiership, and destroyed his four-decade ambitions.

"This winter, people are going to be freezing to death. They're going to freeze to death because of global warming policies," Steyn said.

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