Some question if PNM plan is worthy

Posted at: 06/13/2013 9:31 PM
Updated at: 06/14/2013 8:39 AM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Thousands of people in Albuquerque are turning off their air conditioning at the hottest time of the day, while others are cranking it up.

It is part of a program through PNM called "Power Saver,” but in this kind of heat, it is getting some mixed reviews.

Jerry Cross said, the coolest his house has gotten this week is 78 degrees.  That is because of a device installed on his air conditioning unit.  It is a control lock that allows PNM full control to cycle his air conditioning during peak usage times.

"They always talk about how bad it is in the middle of the day, and I would rather do that than have brownouts or blackouts at some point," Cross said.

Cross has been part of PNM's Power Saver program for the past three years.

"When it's 101 it does get up to about 80 degrees," Cross added.

Valerie Regensberg said she was part of the program, until Thursday.

"It came to be where it was getting too hot in the house and it was at dangerous levels," Regensberg said.  "The comparable of sitting in your hot car with the windows rolled up."

PNM Spokeswoman Valerie Smith said, they have received some complaints, but emphasized, you can sign-up or drop-out at any time.

"They'll feel it warm up a few degrees in their home, it cycles on and off so it doesn't make your house turn into an inferno, but we do have some people say it's a little more uncomfortable than expected," Smith said.

It works for a lot of people because they do not even notice the temperature change, Smith said. Before customers sign up, it is important to know, participation will not cut your monthly bill. 

Instead, Smith said, it is designed to help the environment.

On days when temperatures are near 100 degrees and air conditioners are working in overdrive, Smith said, the Power Saver program reduces the chance they have to use additional peak power plants at all.

"And that helps keep costs low for everyone, including the participants," Smith said.

What is not hot to some could be too hot for others to handle.

"I ran my air conditioning unit for the last 12 hours straight to get it back to where it should be," Regensberg said.

About 30,000 people are enrolled in the Power Saver program.

"We tolerate it fairly well," Cross said.

Many apartment complexes are also enrolled, so individual tenants have to call if they want to cancel.

If you have a swamp cooler, the program doesn't apply, but there is also some financial benefit to the program.

When customers sign-up, they receive a $25 check and you get a $25 bonus every year if you stick with the program.