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Some customers surprised DTE is controlling their A/C through energy-saving program

The CoolCurrent program allows DTE to remotely turn customers’ air conditioning on and off during periods of peek energy demand
Posted at 10:52 AM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 18:24:50-04

LINCOLN PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) — DTE Energy sent out an email Tuesday notifying many of its customers they were part of an energy saving program called CoolCurrent. The email explained to customers that their air conditioning could be cycled on and off during periods of peak energy demand.

Many customers like Sergio Montanez said they were unaware they were part of the program.

Montanez bought his Lincoln Park home last August. He said he didn’t find out until Tuesday, one of the hottest days of the year, that his air conditioning could be controlled by DTE.

He described what he learned from the email.

“During the days I guess DTE will be shutting off our A/C for I guess intervals of 15 minutes,” Montanez said.

What is the CoolCurrent program?

He is not alone. Following the email, other DTE customers expressed their surprise and displeasure on Facebook with comments like, “I called them and they told me my house already had it on the house when I bought it, I was unaware of it until today.”

Another posting said, “Looks like everyone is getting that email. Glad I’m on Consumers and don’t have to deal with DTE.”

However, the program is not unique to DTE. Consumers Energy has the same type of opt-in program. That one is called AC Peak Cycling Program.

John Boladian, the director of Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Management for DTE, responded to the concern. He explained the CoolCurrents program is just one of the demand response programs offered by DTE and they are all voluntary.

Boladian responded to the allegation that people purchased homes and were not told they were already in the program. He admitted, the process of notifying customers should begin when they take ownership.

He said DTE was trying to be proactive this week by getting the emails out to customers as he program isn’t new.

“The program has been in effect for at least over 30 years and the number of customers that we have currently is about 260,000 customers,” Boladian explained.

The CoolCurrent program involves actually stopping the air conditioner at the source 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off for no more than eight hours in a 24-hour window. Boladian, however, said it’s typically done for no more than four hours at a time.

Other newer demand response programs, like the SmartSavers program and the SmartCurrent program, allow customers to opt in to allow DTE to adjust their smart thermostat during peak energy usage.

Boladian explained how much customers can save with the CoolCurrent program.

And yet, even that savings information isn’t enough for someone like Montanez.