TEP wants to control your air conditioner this summer

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.”

See also:

Petition to Arizona legislature – Dump Renewable Energy Mandates

Will you let the power company control your air conditioner?

Dump Downtown Hotel

A new scheme to finance a downtown hotel is being promoted by developer Garfield Traub. This time the developer proposes that a real estate investment trust from Chicago buy bonds to finance the hotel, a Tucson Convention Center Expansion, and a new parking garage. The only problem with this deal is that the City of Tucson taxpayers would be on the hook for $230 million to back up the bonds.

If the hotel-convention center plan is such a good deal, why can’t it be financed entirely by private investors without taxpayers being on the hook? Let private enterprise take the risk and reap the rewards, if any.

I also wonder if the Tucson City Council has heard of the “Gift Clause” in the Arizona constitution. The “Gift clause” AZ constitution art. 9, § 7 states: “Neither the state, nor any county, city, town, municipality, or other subdivision of the state shall ever give or loan its credit in the aid of, or make any donation or grant, by subsidy or otherwise, to any individual, association, or corporation, or become a subscriber to, or a shareholder in, any company or corporation, or become a joint owner with any person, company, or corporation, except as to such ownerships as may accrue to the state by operation or provision of law or as authorized by law solely for investment of the monies in the various funds of the state.”

The City should take note of what happened to Tucson Electric Park, the county-owned baseball park built and maintained by county taxpayers. Professional baseball has abandoned Tucson. An article in the Arizona Daily Star says, “The county-owned baseball facility is home to a stadium and practice fields, but nobody plays there any more, since the Tucson Sidewinders and spring training have packed up and moved on.” The article goes on to say that the park might be seeking a new name. I suggest Pima’s Folly.

Slack lines cause power outages

On Tuesday, Oct. 27, my westside neighborhood experienced approximately 30 short power outages during the very windy day and evening. Each would last from 30 seconds to five minutes. That made work on a desktop computer very difficult. By the way, my neighborhood has all underground utilities.

I inquired of TEP to see what was happening and what they were doing about it.

This morning I received a call from TEP spokesman Joseph Barrios. He said that overhead lines leading into the neighborhood carry both high-voltage transmission lines and lower-voltage distribution lines. Slack in the lines caused them to touch and short out, tripping circuit breakers. The breakers would automatically reset.

Barrios said that if this happens more than four times, the TEP crews search out the cause. Apparently over time, the lines stretch, resulting in too much slack. Barrios said that crews have now tightened the lines and installed “separators” which hopefully will prevent future problems, at least for a while.

Although the power outages were inconvenient, I appreciate that TEP crews got to work to identify the problem and that Mr. Barrios telephoned me with an explanation.