California Releases Proposal for Tightened TV Efficiency Standards, Manufacturers Grumble

tv in store photo

Photo via cpchannel via Flickr CC

Back in January, California made a splash in the electronics sector by saying that it wanted to relieve potential burden on the grid by banning energy hog televisions from store shelves. The state has now released a proposal for efficiency standards that would go into effect in 2011, and tighter standards to follow in 2013. The consumer electronics industry has mixed reactions. The proposal released on California's government website states that: "The proposed standards have no effect on existing televisions. If approved, they would only apply to TVs sold in California after January 1, 2011. The first standard (Tier 1) would take effect January 1, 2011, and reduce energy consumption by average of 33 percent. The second measure (Tier 2) would take effect in 2013 and, in conjunction with Tier 1, reduce energy consumption by an average of 49 percent."

That is a huge amount of energy saved, adding up to about $30 a year for households, and about $8.1 billion for the state. The policy for the standards will most likely be approved in November, following a 45-day public comment period.

The Consumer Electronics Association - who reacted strongly against the announcement earlier in the year - are still strongly against the proposed efficiency standards for televisions sold in stores, stating, "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."

We have to give an eye-roll here. Consumers will have plenty to choose from even if standards took place today. The proposal notes that, "As of the summer of 2009, early 850 models already meet the 2011 standard; and of those, 231 models meet the 2013 standard." When pushed, companies will figure out how to make the televisions they're putting on the market in another year energy efficient enough to meet the standards of one US state, or else they can sell those models everywhere else in the world and save their most efficient models for California stores.

The LA Times reports that only a quarter of televisions on store shelves now would have to be pulled, and that "some flat-panel-TV makers said they would have no trouble hitting the higher efficiency threshold and that TV buyers wouldn't see prices rise." We hope that's the case, though the OLED Association has mentioned that "green" TVs come at a premium that is noticeable. This is mainly just due to greenwashing, which could be vastly reduced if everything on the shelves is meeting tighter energy consumption standards.

And regarding the mention about tax revenue, it's worth repeating the LA Times, which notes, "Yet California's energy needs are so vast, it still must import about 30% of its electricity from out of state. Continued conservation, officials say, is critical to ensure California has enough electricity to keep its economy growing and healthy." Tax revenue from the sale of TVs versus the cost of generating enough power for all its citizens...we're guessing electricity will win out every time.

There is plenty of leeway here for manufacturers to get with it, and we're hoping that the 2011 standards help them get settled into the fact that energy efficiency is a requirement. Period.

Everything you want to know about the proposal can be found in the FAQ - from the amount of energy its expected to save (3,831 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2011; 2,684 GWh in 2013), to if Californians can expect to have men in dark suits come and whisk away their plasma TV from their living rooms in the dead of the night (they won't...we're pretty sure).

More on Television Efficiency
California Wants to Kick Energy-Sucking TVs Out of Stores
New Energy Star Ratings for TVs Announced
Green Flat Panels to Dominate Market

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