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.