California Slightly Backs Down On Thermostat Issue

Last week, I posted about California’s proposed Big Brother Thermostat proposal, where they were planning to mandate that all new thermostats allowed the state utility companies to shut off your A/C if it was an “emergency”. They’ve backed down on this one, but only slightly:

As initially proposed, these programmable thermostats would have deferred in emergencies to a radio signal from utilities, wresting control from customers.

After public protests, Chandler said the commission staff has suggested letting customers choose whether to accept the emergency control.

“The consumer or customer can override the emergency control,” with the change, Chandler said.

However, the thermostat will still include a radio control component that utilities could use with consumers’ consent. That component will be a mandatory part of the thermostat, which can’t be removed by the consumer.

Critics say they fear that requiring new homes to include a radio-controlled thermostat will make it easier to enforce mandatory controls later.

Fundamentally, nothing has changed. They still have decided to take control of your thermostat, and I think the critics’ point is quite valid. This isn’t the end of the road. When major power grabs don’t work, you take minor power grabs. The destination doesn’t change, only the length of the step.

What I said last week doesn’t change. If you get stuck with one of these thermostats, disable it. And even though they’ve softened their position, you should still contact your representative. We all know that this is but one step on a defined path for the regulators, and it is still important to let them know you’re not fooled.

  • Adam Selene

    How much do you want to bet that the HVAC companies think this is a good idea too? Government regulated reductions in market choice are good for them, it will undoubtedly drive up the cost of an HVAC system for a new home.

  • ed42

    Rocky Mountain Power (major power supplier in the intermountain west) is in the process of replacing their meters with radio readable meters (up to 1/2 away). I wonder if these meters have a remote kill switch?

  • Adam

    It’s just the next step in the loss of our freedom. Believe you me, Independance day isn’t the same celebration of freedom that we used to celebrate.

  • Patrick Henry

    The amusement factor for hacking is quite great. Not quite as funny was the reason I saw in the paper given as to why it couldn’t be hacked – it is encrypted and encoded!

    Not funny at all is the terrorism potential – i.e. turning off heat in winter or AC in summer could kill people, especially older folks.

    Bad idea all around.

  • Adam Selene

    while those are good points, they pretty much miss the main point. It’s my property, not the state’s or the utility company’s.

  • RC

    Time to stock up on guns,bullets, and thermostats!

  • UCrawford


    This is the kind of shit that happens when the government has created a regulatory state that makes the building of new power plants (especially nuclear ones) problematic if not impossible. We had the state government sink the construction of one here in Kansas in October (and, not coincidentally, it’s scared off all sorts of new business from other industries that were thinking about moving here).

    On the plus side, I have a feeling that if they actually do set up a thermostat that can be run by the state, some enterprising individual is going to find a way to successfully tamper with it, which will spread to the customer base. Nobody’s going to put up with the state micromanaging their heat in the summer time (especially in a heat wave, which is when the “emergencies” happen).

  • Bill

    This is a complete repeat of the rational for passage of the sixteenth amendment to the constitution (i.e. the one that gave the federal government the power to levy an income tax). It was sold to the populace under the idea that only the really rich would ever be taxed, and that would just be a couple of percent. Well, fast forward 95 years and see where it’s led: nearly everyone who earns enough money not to be on welfare pays a quarter or more of their income to the federal government.

    This thing is being sold by the liberals and left wing wackos as a rational solution to prevent rolling blackouts on those few days a year when the demand puts the power grid at risk. Now consider what’s really going to happen. At first it will be only used for emergencies; then a little later it will be used during things like smog alerts in order to help prevent power plants from adding more pollutants to the air. Of course once it’s used for that, we all know that the global warming crowd considers carbon dioxide a pollutant (so that they can control the economy by controlling energy), so once that’s established the control will be used to limit your use of electricity period, because every good liberal knows that when you use your air conditioning you are killing the poor defenseless polar bears.

    While big brother is at it why stop at thermostats? Why not control the lights (oops, they are already by forcing everyone to buy mercury filled light bulbs), your TV, your refrigerator (refrigerators will detect the presence of “prohibited” foods inside, such as red meat, and will automatically turn off so that the prohibited items spoil), your computer (computer will shut off if you read anything written by a conservative), and the everything else that technology could possibly be used to control in your life.

  • Joseph Somsel

    There ought to be a way to let citizens know if prices are high and shortages critical. Eventually we’ll have time of day pricing so that the occupants can decide if a little extra heat is worth some savings on their utility bill.

    I wrote the original American Thinker article on this that went on-line Jan 4th.

    One possibility is a red light – yellow light – green light broadcast. You could get a PCT if you wanted that would respond but be able to control the response yourself. Maybe just a receiver with the lights so you could adjust your use IF YOU WANTED TO.

    I’m not adverse to doing some things to save juice when it is helpful but I want to be the decider.

    Don’t know if it will be worth the investment though.

    What do you folks think?

  • UCrawford


    “There ought to be a way to let citizens know if prices are high and shortages critical.”

    There is, it’s called the free market. And it doesn’t require much, if any, government involvement to work.

  • Joseph Somsel

    They’ve backed off even more, according to this FAQ from the CEC today:

    I’d call this a victory in the first battle but not the end of the war.

    Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.