Big Brother steps back from the thermostat

AT is pleased to have played a small role in keeping Californians (and perhaps eventually all Americans) in charge of their thrmostat settings. For now, at least.

Joseph Somsel first revealed here that California was considering requiring the installation of remotely controllable thermostats in all new construction and remodeling, so that authorities could lower or increase temperatures when energy supply considerations made this desirable in in the eyes of the all-knowing state.

A small scale national firestorm began, and even the New York Times credited  American Thinker with putting the story on the national agenda.

The California Energy Commission has now backed down  and removed  programmable communicating thermostats (PCT) from the 2008 Building Standards. Here is the official notice:

There has been considerable discussion concerning programmable communicating thermostats (PCT) and their proposed inclusion in the regulations for the 2008 building standards.

On January 15, 2008, the Energy Commission's Efficiency Committee (Commissioner Rosenfeld and Chairman Pfannenstiel) directed that PCTs be removed from the proposed 2008 energy efficiency building standards.

The Committee also asked that the value and concerns related to the potential application of PCTs be considered with other demand response technologies in the Energy Commission's Load Management proceeding that began recently. Moving the evaluation of the PCT to the Load Management proceeding provides a venue for a broader discussion on the PCT technology and how it could be used with future utility tariff and rate programs. It also provides an opportunity for a full examination by consumers, utilities and manufacturers regarding the benefits and consumer choice options for demand response technologies. It is important that consumers have the ability to opt out of or into demand response programs, such as those involving the PCT.

The Energy Commission strongly supports demand response strategies, and believes that the programmable communicating thermostat offers a valuable tool to dampen peak electricity use. Demand response strategies are an important alternative to building costly new power plants that only operate during peak demand times of the year.

Technology can be a powerful tool in managing our energy use. However, it is of utmost importance that consumers make their own energy decisions.
This is not a complete victory, to be sure. But at least for now, the energy mandarins say they respect the importance of Californians making their own decisions. Thanks to all those in the blogosphere, talk radio, and especially those concerned citizens who voiced their protest to the California Energy Commission.

Hat tip: Joseph Somsel and Ethel Fenig