Texas Legislation Would Protect Smart Thermostat Customers

In December, Texas state Representative Rafael Anchia introduced House Bill (HB) 489 to protect electricity customers from certain marketing tactics for smart thermostats. According to an article in The Dallas Morning News, the bill is a reaction to a 2013 column by blogger Dave Lieber that described how a residential customer was charged $495 when she cancelled her smart thermostat rental. The contract she signed with retail supplier Tara Energy (a subsidiary of Just Energy Group) for the thermostat was printed in such a small font that it was barely legible, and the cancellation clause was buried within the text.

HB 489 would require retail providers to provide market materials and contracts with “clear descriptions in plain language of the product or service, of the contract terms, and of customers’ rights.” According to Lieber’s column, the bill has drawn “unexpected backlash” from lobbyists.

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