1.) That article is misleading, as it intentionally omits the fact that you are not locked out of your thermostat. It can be adjusted at any time and if you don't like the temp where they set it, then just change the temperature back to where you want it.
2.) El Paso Electric has the exact same program and you can override the thermostat at any point in time. By signing up for the program you receive a $125 check in the mail the first year and $25 every year after and you allow them to control your thermostat for up to 10 times a year, at no more than 4 hours per event. It can only be between July and Sept and there are also only specific times that this can be done(between 2pm and 8pm). They notify you in advance on the app, they then cool down your house in advance, and then adjust your thermostat to a maximum of 78(which is what I have seen). You get a $125 check at the end of the first year and then every year after the first they will send you a $25 check. I have gotten a check for 7 years now. If you don't like the temperature during one of the 10 events, then just change it and they will not credit you for participating in that event and they will prorate how much of a check they send you at the end of the year(I.E. you will receive 9/10's of $25 if you change it during one of the 10 events).
And at the end of the day, it you don't like it at all then just go into the app and opt out. I understand, but personally I think it is a good program.