KSL INVESTIGATES

Orem man says power company installed remote switch to limit his A/C without his permission

May 3, 2022, 6:15 PM | Updated: 8:16 pm

OREM, Utah — Sure, the weather was relatively cool in Utah on Tuesday, but soon, it is going to heat up enough for many of us to flip on our air conditioners.

For years, Rocky Mountain Power has installed switches on A/C units that allows it to remotely toggle off the air conditioning to save energy during heat waves. It has always been a voluntary thing, but an Orem man says one was installed on his A/C unit without his permission.

“We like to keep our house very cold in the summer,” said Jason-Paul Delue.

Delue said he feels like he does his part to conserve energy – he is an electrician and he and his wife installed solar panels to offset their power use. So, imagine his surprise when he got a security alert from his home’s security cameras telling him that someone was in his backyard. He spoke to the person through the camera who identified himself as working for the power company.

“They just came up saying that they have an appointment with me, and they said my name like verbatim,” Delue said.

The appointment was to install a device used for Rocky Mountain Power’s Cool Keeper program. Delue said he told the guy he did not want it and to go away. It was installed anyway.

“Well, as an electrician and knowing exactly what it is, it kind of made me mad.”

The Cool Keeper device is a switch that, when activated, will reduce the power going to your air conditioner by about half. Or it will toggle off the A/C compressor for about a half-hour while the fan continues to push air throughout your home. The system is designed to reduce energy consumption during the hottest days of the year by allowing Rocky Mountain Power to remotely cycle air conditioning units on and off for short time periods. It is only activated on select days in May through September.

When asked if the power company was installing Cool Keeper devices without people’s permission, Rocky Mountain Power spokesperson Tiffany Erickson said, “No, we aren’t.”

She defends the benefits of the Cool Keeper program, saying most customers like it — they get a discount on their power bill and “like being part of something that… conserves energy.” But it is 100% voluntary. So, how did Delue make in on their install list?

“We don’t know how that happened,” Erickson said. “We’re assuming it was some misunderstanding.”

As for Delue, with the power company’s permission, he has disconnected the Cool Keeper device and is returning it.

Erickson says people who opt into the Cool Keeper program are not committed. They can decide they do not want it and opt out of the program just as easily.

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Orem man says power company installed remote switch to limit his A/C without his permission