It's been only four months since the proudly independent Texas power grid failed under a cold snap, and now it's in danger of a similar fate during the current heat wave. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, sterling public servants that they are, have asked Texans to raise their thermostats to 78 during the hottest part of the day. And for some, they're not asking.
According to reports from various local news outlets, energy customers with smart thermostats like the Nest have seen their house's temperatures shoot up by remote control via their electricity provider. It isn't everyone, or even very widespread: the problem seems to be exclusively experienced by users who have opted into "smart" energy distribution systems, for perks like a free smart thermostat, a discount on their monthly bill, or entry into a sweepstakes.
It appears that everyone affected by this remote action agreed to it in some form or fashion, so everything's legal. According to a report from USA Today, one energy provider with the opt-in system will increase a home's temperature by "up to four degrees" without warning, but only during the period of highest demand. Assuming that the air conditioning system remains operational and that the power doesn't go out, no one should be in any kind of danger, despite some potential mild discomfort.
In my Dallas-Fort Worth suburb, today's high is 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Texas will certainly have multiple weeks of 100+-degree days before the summer's through, with a few days topping 110. This will get worse before it gets better. Texas energy customers who want a cool home (and aren't afraid to cripple the state's hilariously terrible independent power grid) should try to opt out of Smart Savers or similar programs, or simply replace their smart thermostats with older models.