Central Valley home gets first ‘smart switch’
March 21, 2007
• PG&E will use device to switch off A/C
• Stockton will get some of the first 5,000 units
Bob Addicks, operations director for Good Cents of San Bernardino, shows the radio-controlled switch. Good Cents is an energy management company that installed the switch on Ms. Golden's home.
Ana Golden’s home on the north side of Stockton could see its air conditioning shut off on some of the Central Valley’s hottest days.
And Ms. Golden, a local insurance broker, is happy with that.
Her home is the first in Stockton to get a “smart switch” installed that will let Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to remotely control the cooling unit. The utility will be able to switch off the system’s power-gobbling compressor if it is facing unmeetable demand for power.
It’s somewhat similar to what farms and businesses have agreed to – interruptible power.
Ms. Golden says the shutoff time would be only 15 minutes out of every hour.
Stockton has been chosen by PG& E to receive the first 5,000 “SmartAC” units as part of a program that will eventually enable the utility to remotely program air conditioning thermostats for its 5 million electric customers when the energy situation becomes critical.
“Stockton is a model city to debut this voluntary program and is well suited to receive the first 5,000 units that will eventually usher in even more customer and environmental benefits,” says Helen Burt, senior vice president and customer care officer for PG&E, in written comments.
“In addition to being a thriving metropolitan community in the Central Valley, Stockton has the climate, mixture of established and new residential, agricultural and commercial property, and forward thinking on energy conservation that make it ideal for this technology,” she says.
Installation of the first 5,000 units is expected to be completed in 2008. PG&E hopes to enroll up to 400,000 customers in the program by 2010, which could conserve an estimated 300 megawatts of energy load.
Customers who participate in the program allow power consumption from their air conditioning system to be temporarily reduced by PG&E when the need for electricity in the region becomes critical. This reduction occurs when PG&E sends a radio signal to remotely activate a device installed on an air conditioner or programmable thermostat in the home.
The program is voluntary and those enrolling will receive a “thank you” payment of $25 for participating.
Ms. Golden says it wasn’t the money – she’s more concerned about ways individuals can help the environment.