Utility companies, regulators, and various experts continue to warn that American power grids are vulnerable and prone to blackouts. This has led to a growing number of utilities and organizations encouraging customers to install smart thermostats which allow utilities to remotely control customer energy use.
In June of 2021, smart thermostats being remotely controlled by a Texas utility led to dangerously hot temperatures in customers’ homes. More recently a study revealed that smart thermostats could actually be damaging local power grids.
Nevertheless, American utility companies are likely to continue encouraging customers to install smart thermostats so they can remotely control their energy use. A Wisconsin utility is even paying customers to install them.
Alliant Energy to pay customers $25 to take over their thermostats at peak times
Alliant Energy has launched a suite of programs to help balance the grid by adjusting customer thermostats.
Alliant Energy is looking to its customers for help keeping the electrical grid in balance.
The Madison-based utility is rolling out a suite of programs to offer cash rewards in exchange for giving up occasional control over thermostats and water heaters.
Under one new program, customers with internet-connected thermostats can receive $25 a year for allowing the utility to adjust the temperature in their homes by a few degrees up to 20 times per year, typically on hot summer afternoons when electricity use peaks.
According to regulatory filings, Alliant aims to enroll up to 7,000 households over the next two years, which the company says could provide up to 5 megawatts of capacity that could be called on instead of generators.
The utility says it may also use it to manage gas flows during winter months when utilities’ growing reliance on gas to generate electricity competes with home heating needs.
“Smart thermostats give customers more control over their energy use and make it easier than ever to reduce their energy bills,” said Kari Gehrke, Alliant’s manager of demand management. “Our Smart Hours program allows customers to personalize their temperature preferences and increase the flexibility of their heating and cooling systems.”