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Monday, January 14, 2008

Your equipment will freeze or burn by our dictates!

Attention citizens! Attention to your Telescreen now! That means

YOU, Roberts88739T, and YOU Debros02935Y. Attention!



By order of the California State Regulatorium, your environmental temperatures are hereby and forever placed under our direct command.

Starting next year, if all goes as planned, your new or substantially modified homes and commercial buildings by edict shall be equipped with thermostats that will be controlled via FM broadcast signals

( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/11/us/11control.html ).

We will transmit temperature recommendations! We will override your temperature settings as we see fit!

You and your equipment will freeze or burn by our dictates! Oh glorious technology of the 21st century, come to fruition in reality from the nether regions of bureaucrats' dreams!
You need not fear hacking of this wondrousness. All associated Internet connections will be protected with the same sorts of precision security used for touchscreen voting systems! And citizens, be warned! While this will likely be a one-way system for now -- making it difficult for us to detect simple but illicitampering directly -- our vast network of thermostat informants will be ready and willing to report any and all transgressors, with the full weight of the criminal justice system waiting like the Sword of Damocles.
So give glory to the Masters of Megawatts! All hail the Honchos of Heat! Genuflect to the Autocrats of Air Conditioning!
And coming soon, mandated devices that will allow us to control when and where you have sex. More details about these in our next Telescreen bulletin.
Until then, you may return to your designated legal, state-mandated activities.

This announcement has been brought to you by the California State Ministry of Environmental Monitoring and Control. Have a nice day!

In California, in the early morning, the price of power can actually be negative - that's when all the generation is spinning, ready for the onslaught of toasters and coffee makers. the problem is that they never know exactly when that will be, but they *must* have the assets spinning at the ready because it takes 10s of minutes to throttle-up a fossil-fuel power plant, and missing the ramp could be catastrophic.

Because of the large spinning reserve, there is a lot of surplus power until the load ramp does start. consequently, if you can take power off the grid and then be able stop relatively quickly, they will *pay you* to take the power.

However, later at 4pm in the afternoon, when the air conditioning is running flat-out, they may be buying power on the spot market for 30 times the 10am cost.
load shedding in those peak windows can have huge financial impact for the utility.

This is not to say i'm delighted by the notion of someone turning the dial for me, but the time is coming when there will be a live data feed with the instantaneous prices for power. there may be significant advantages to having active power management in the house so it can turn the knobs.

David Farber [dave@farber.net]
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