California Gives Thumbs Up to TV Efficiency Standards, and the Finger to the Consumer Electronics Industry

Photo via brownpau via Flickr CC

Well, the battle over California adopting new TV efficiency standards has been fun to watch, what with the Consumer Electronics Industry stomping around and turning red in the face at the idea of not being able to have a handful of the most energy-sucking TVs on store shelves in the state. However, a decision has been made in favor of efficiency. Just announced is word that, by a unanimous 5-0 vote, the California Energy Commission adopted the most advanced TV energy efficiency standards in the world. Read on to see what the new standards will mean. Let's recap on the standards:

The standards require new TVs smaller than 58 inches sold in California to be 33% more efficient starting in 2011 and 49% more efficient starting in 2013. Anything not meeting the standards won't be allowed to be sold in physical stores in the state of California. It doesn't mean people can't order energy inefficient TVs from online, or keep their existing energy hogs.

More than 1,000 television models on the market today meet the 2011 standards, according the CEC, but still the CEA says that it will cost jobs and tax revenue. However, that is very short -term thinking.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, "The new standards will make new TVs 30-50 percent more efficient and put almost a billion dollars a year back into the California economy in the form of lower electricity bills. The electricity saved will be equal to the amount used by all the homes in Oakland and Anaheim annually. The new standard will also eliminate the need for California to build a new, large-sized 500 MW power plant, reducing carbon emissions equal to removing 500,000 cars from the road."

It's not really surprising that California voted in favor of the tightened standards. It's California after all, one of the meccas of green in the US. But that also could mean that many other states are likely to start following suit and tightening down on efficiency standards for televisions. It's also not surprising considering the new standards for TVs aren't all that different from standards placed on appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners.

Noah Horowitz, senior scientist with the NRDC, stated, "With today's pioneering decision, California is once again leading the way on energy efficiency standards. The newly adopted California TV standards will be the most advanced in the world. If history repeats itself, we expect many policy makers around the world to establish similar standards in the not too distant future."

The Consumer Electronics Association is less than happy about it, saying during the proposal process, "CEA is disappointed that the CEC rushed forward with proposed regulations despite overwhelming opposition and concrete evidence of harm to California should these regulations be adopted. Independent studies show millions in tax revenue and thousands of jobs are at stake."

Government regulation actually could stifle innovation, said Doug Johnson, senior director for technology policy with the Arlington, Va.-based Consumer Electronics Assn, according to the LA Times, pointing out that the industry is naturally evolving toward energy efficiency anyway.

We're guessing now that the regulations are moving forward, we won't see an economic crash all due to plasma TVs coming off store shelves - equating to only about 25% of what's currently on the shelves - and we're also guessing we'll see far more TVs touting energy efficiency and carbon footprint verification filling up the empty space.

The new standards take effect January 1, 2011.

More on the California TV Efficiency Standards

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