10 January 2008

It's For Your Own Good, California

California may be taking a frightening step towards allowing the utilities or the state the ability to modify what you have your thermostat set to. Over at American Thinker, Joseph Somsel as a piece about California's newly proposed builing energy efficiency standards. I have excerpted the relevant section below.


Certification by Manufacturers. Any space-conditioning equipment listed in this section may be installed only if the manufacturer has certified that the equipment complies with all the applicable requirements of this section.

(c) Thermostats6. All unitary heating and/or cooling systems including heat pumps that are not controlled by a central energy management control system (EMCS) shall have a Programmable Communicating Thermostat (PCT) that is certified by the manufacturer to the Energy Commission to meet the requirements of Subsections 112(c)(1) and 112(c)(2) below:

1. Setback Capabilities. All PCTs shall have a clock mechanism that allows the building occupant to program the temperature set points for at least four periods within 24 hours. Thermostats for heat pumps shall meet the requirements of Section 112(b).

2. Communicating Capabilities. All PCTs shall be distributed with a non-removable Radio Data System (RDS) communications device that is compatible with the default statewide DR communications system , which can be used by utilities to send price and emergency signals. PCTs shall be capable of receiving and responding to the signals indicating price and emergency events as follows.

A. Price Events. The PCT shall be shipped with default price-event offsets of +4°F for cooling and -4°F for heating enabled; however, customers shall be able to change the offsets and thermostat settings at any time during price events. Upon receiving a price-event signal, the PCT shall adjust the thermostat setpoint by the number of degrees indicated in the offset for the duration specified in the signal of the price event. The PCT shall also be equipped with the capability to allow customers to define setpoints for heating and cooling in response to price signals as an alternative to temperature-offsetting response, as described in Reference Joint Appendix JA5.

B. Emergency Events. Upon receiving an emergency signal, the PCT shall respond to commands contained in the emergency signal, including changing the setpoint by any number of degrees or to a specific temperature setpoint. The PCT shall not allow customer changes to thermostat settings during emergency events.
3. Other Required Capabilities. PCTs shall also have the following capabilities. Technical detail of items A though E below shall be included in Reference Joint Appendix JA5:

A. Include at least one industry standard expansion/communication port. Insertion of a utility-specific communications module shall disable the default statewide communications hardware built in to the PCT unless the utility module is removed or is no longer receiving a signal.

B. Provide user information regarding communications system connection status, type of event (price or emergency), and other maintenance-related information. This information shall be on the standard PCT display, using a Liquid Crystal Display, standalone indicator using Light Emitting Diodes, or other means.

C. At a minimum, standardize terminal mapping of terminal numbers 1-9. This approach must include 24 volt power supply, both analog and digital PCTs, and must support heat pumps with resistance heat strips and reversing valve in both residential and small commercial packaged units.

D. Include the capability to randomize, over a 30-minute period after the end of an event, the time at which the thermostat returns to the programmed setpoint.

E. Through user input be capable of addressability at the substation level or finer including individual PCT.
California Energy Commission 2008 Building Energy Efficiency Standards
If you think that this is too much control for the utilities and state, and if you live in California, then you may want to send your comments or opinions on this change to Chris Gekas, the process administrator (cgekas@energy.state.ca.us), by 30 January 2008, and the same to your elected public servants.

It may be a concept that was born of good intentions, but it is a frightening loss of control for California citizens if it actually comes to fruition.


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