Saturday, January 12, 2008

Big Brother Is Coming!

This government-proposed plan has hit the proverbial fan and sent cold shivers down to the biosphere of the Internet and talk radio. Heard it on the radio this morning and Drudge Report featured this story today. Now we learn that talk radio king, Rush Limbaugh, had earlier also created considerable buzz about this aimed at his millions of listeners.

As the International Herald Tribune headline declares, California wants to control home thermostats.

“Next year in California, state regulators are likely to have the emergency power to control individual thermostats, sending temperatures up or down through a radio-controlled device that will be required in new or substantially modified houses and buildings to manage electricity shortages.”
But as early as the start of last summer, those of us in the Central Valley (CA) had received an invitation from our electricity and gas provider, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, to join in their SmartAC Program.

The program is designed to work this way:
1. When high energy use drains California’s power systems, PG&E sends a signal to activate SmartAC technology installed in homes across the state.
2. The SmartAC technology then reduces your air conditioner’s energy use by cycling it on and off for brief periods or slightly raising the temperature on your thermostat.
3. Your AC fan continues to circulate air in your home during this period, helping to keep you comfortable.
4. SmartAC is only activated when it’s needed. At any time, however, you may call PG&E or go online to return your air conditioner to normal operation.
Additionally, one had the choice of installing either a SmartAC thermostat, which is installed in your home and will allow you to program both your heater and air conditioner, or the SmartAC switch which is installed close to your air conditioning unit. And an added bonus, when you are away you can log in and program your thermostat from the Internet. Now, talk about convenience.

Now, one may ask about the cost. Nada. Not a penny. As a matter of fact, we each got an appreciation check of $25 to have installed either a thermostat or switch. Thank you.

Of course, this is different because this is a private company doing it, but the proposed plan will be government initiated.

And so the resonant stir created has brought out to the fore once again George Orwell and his work, 1984, and mention of all-intrusive Big Brother.

Personally, I do not mind this little bit of intrusion into privacy and the shedding away of a bit of control on how cool or hot the interior of “castle as my home” should be. Better that than total breakdown or blackout, which we have had in the past. Or have people forgotten that, too?

The SmartAC switch was installed in the air-con unit which is located outside of the house.


  1. Now that I hear it explained, it sounds like a pretty logical plan.

  2. But you know how it is here, Phil, people are overly sensitized about any diminution or corrosion of their rights, rights to privacy, civil rights and freedoms, etc.

    And our alert ACLU is ever watchful of all these little things.

  3. If the ACLU had their way I think they'd get rid of all the police completely. I mean, the cops can stop you in your car and demand to see ID and registration. My God, that's horrible! How dare they! I mean, criminals have a right to privacy too, don't they?

  4. this is nothing. i'm reminded of this south american dictator whose heavy-handed actions actually saved his country's environment (it's quite fortunate that he was environmentally aware). personally i'd do just the same if the environment is on the line.

  5. I hope you don't get offended Dave, but your willingness to trod on personal rights to save the environment reminds me that both conservatives and progressives are both willing to side step certain Constitutional amendments as long as its for something "important." I don't mean to impugn you as I don't even know what side of the fence you lean. Just the same your premise is useful as a springboard; for one "side" its national security that takes priority, for the other, its the environment. Oh, and if you don't think our government vis a vis the EPA, etc. doesn't get as heavyhanded as any Latin American dictator you haven't been paying attention.

  6. I say that any measure for whatever purposes that impacts on the collective freedoms of the citizenry should be aired out and discussed on its merits and demerits, then decided with the consent of the governed.

    Anything that is forced on an individual however good and beneficial will somehow encounter resistance and discontent. And in the long run will in all likelihood be self-defeating.

    I suppose we can ascribe it to the obstinate nature of man.

  7. no problem, phil :) i'm generally against extreme measures. perhaps it's just that tree-hugger passion in me that if ever i do have to go to the extreme, it's for the environment. being heavyhanded for any other cause would be frivolous for me.


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