Thursday, November 19, 2009

California Approves New Standards on Energy-Hungry TVs

From the LA Times...
The California Energy Commission votes 5-0 in favor of the nation's first efficiency regulations for televisions of up to 58 inches sold in the state. The stricter rules take effect Jan. 1, 2011.

Starting in 13 months, new TV sets will have to meet energy-efficiency standards that slash the amount of electricity they consume. The regulations also will lower owners' monthly electric bills.

The first-in-the-nation criteria, approved unanimously Wednesday by the five-member California Energy Commission, is aimed at cutting the amount of electricity used by new high-definition TVs of up to 58 inches by a third starting Jan. 1, 2011. More stringent rules that take effect Jan. 1, 2013, would create a cumulative 50% power savings.

The standards don't apply to any of the approximately 35 million TV sets currently in use in California or units sold in the coming year.

"It's absolutely undeniable the benefits that this has for the people of California," said Commissioner James Boyd, an economist and former chief executive of the California Air Resources Board. "Efficiency is the cheapest and simplest way to save our citizens money, to provide a good quality of life and to drive our economy."

Since the sale of flat-panel televisions began to rocket early in the decade, TV-related power usage has more than tripled to 10 billion kilowatt-hours per year, accounting for nearly 10% of residential electricity consumption, said Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld, a nuclear physicist and UC Berkeley professor.

Opponents called the new rules unnecessary and overbearing, and California consumers gave them decidedly mixed views Wednesday.

Many buyers say they welcome rules that would allow them to enjoy super-sharp pictures without feeling guilty about contributing to global warming.

"It saves energy, which saves the bottom line for the consumer, and for the big picture it helps save the environment," said Younger Hong, 35, a Web developer and teacher. Shopping at a Best Buy store in West Hollywood for a 40-plus-inch TV, he added, "TVs are one of the biggest energy consumers in the house; it's a good start."

But John Mayberry, an audio-video control systems engineer in San Marino, questioned the commission's priorities. "Their prioritization of what to do seems askew," he said. The state could find much more energy savings by going after waste in the antiquated electric transmission system, he said. Other critics have denounced the TV regulations as just one more instance of meddling by "nanny government."

The new regulations were fought by the Consumer Electronics Assn., a leading trade group based in Arlington, Va. "Simply put, this is a bad policy: dangerous for the California economy, dangerous for technology innovation and dangerous for consumer freedom," the group said.  In a statement, the association argued that the regulations would lead to higher prices, lost retail jobs and a decline in state tax revenue.

Full article:,0,4027697.story