Xcel Colorado triggered the opt-in smart thermostat program this week

Anyone can enroll in the company’s smart thermostat rewards program, when Xcel can make adjustments in the event of an energy emergency.

For the first time, Xcel Energy took over smart thermostats from potentially thousands of Colorado customers on Tuesday due to what it called an energy emergency.

Xcel started a program six years ago, called the AC Rewards program, where customers get rebates in exchange for Xcel being able to adjust their thermostat on the hottest summer days to ease the pressure on the electrical network. Participating customers must enroll in the program, and about 22,200 have done so in Colorado.

Tuesday was the first time Xcel had locked out some of those thermostats, a company spokesperson said.

The grid experienced a power emergency that day, due to high temperatures and a power plant unit going offline. The company did not sell out-of-state power, Xcel said.

Xcel customers who own certain types of smart thermostats can enroll in the AC Rewards program. They get a one-time enrollment credit of $100 and $35 each year they participate in the program.

Xcel says on its website that “monitoring events” — when Xcel makes adjustments to participating customers’ thermostats — can happen anytime during the summer.

Customers can disable control events at any time, although on rare occasions system emergencies can trigger an event that cannot be undone, Xcel explains.

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Ryan H. Bowman