To help stabilize the electrical grid in their area, some customers of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) have agreed to give up control over their air conditioners. PG&E, through its SmartAC program, installs a radio-activated switch on the customers’ thermostats, and that device adjusts air-conditioner use at times of peak demand for electricity. This past summer, the program helped avert three potential brownout or blackout events. To attract volunteers, the utility offers a small monetary...

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