Internet-ready programmable thermostat encourages energy conservation


Miami, FL, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — August 20, 2007 – The Florida Power & Light Company, a subsidiary of FPL Group with 4.4 million accounts in the state, will offer customers an Internet-ready programmable thermostat; if trials are successful the utility plans to add the new tool to its overall line of energy efficiency products. FPL recently received approval from the Florida Public Service Commission to test this program; trials are due to start this fall in Broward County.

The thermostat, which will be offered to customers free of charge, will display virtual thermostat knobs that offer customers the ability to minimize energy use when no one is at home. Then with the touch of a button customers can ensure that the temperature is just as they like it when they arrive home.

Along with not charging for the thermostat, FPL will install it for free. In return, the customer agrees to let FPL cycle the air conditioner for short periods of time, only when necessary, to conserve energy during heavy demand. However, the customer can always override the utility’s remote control over the air conditioner via the Internet or by calling a toll-free number provided by FPL.

Customers can also ask FPL to install similar control mechanisms over pool pumps or water heaters or both. This allows FPL to cycle off these devices for brief periods, if needed. In return, participating customers receive monthly credits on their electric bills from FPL. Known as On Call, this program means the utility can better manage overall electricity demand, thus improving reliability. For customers participating in the thermostat pilot program, On Call credits will only be offered for the pool pump and the water heater, not their air conditioners.

"We are committed to providing our customers with helpful information and easy to use tools, such as this new programmable thermostat, that allow them to take control of their energy usage," said Marlene Santos, FPL’s vice president of customer service. "This technology also will help FPL avoid the need to build power plants just to serve occasional demand peaks. That saves all of us money in the long run."

FPL estimates customer participation in the utility’s conservation and energy management programs has helped prevent the need to build 11 power plants over the past quarter-century. The On Call program currently has close to 750,000 customers. Their participation in the program saved 938 MW of peak power demand by the end of last summer – which equals the output of three power plants.

"Along with helping our customers, these programs help further the objectives of the Florida Energy Efficiency Conservation Act (FEECA) to reduce and control the growth of energy consumption and increase conservation of Florida’s natural resources," said Santos. FPL offers a wide array of services to help customers manage and better control their energy use.