California poised to ban power-guzzling TVs


The LA Times reports California appears poised to be first to ban power-guzzling big-screen TVs Industry lobbying efforts appear to elicit little sympathy from the state Energy Commission, which may vote as soon as 11/4. The proposed ban on electricity-guzzling big-screen TVs would provide average first-year savings from of $30 per set and $912 million statewide.

The Consumer Electronics Association is fighting what appears to be a losing battle to dissuade California regulators from passing the nation’s first ban on energy-hungry big-screen televisions. Last week, execs and consultants for the Arlington, VA trade group asked members of the California Energy Commission to instead let consumers use their wallets to decide whether they want to buy the most energy-saving new models of liquid-crystal display and plasma HDTVs.

“Voluntary efforts are succeeding without regulations,” said Doug Johnson, the association’s senior director for technology policy. Too much government interference could hamstring industry innovation and prove expensive to manufacturers and consumers, he warned.

But those pleas didn’t appear to elicit much support from commissioners at a public hearing on the proposed rules that would set maximum energy-consumption standards for televisions to be phased in over two years beginning in January 2011.

The association’s views weren’t shared by everyone in the TV business. Representatives of some TV makers, including top-seller Vizio of Irvine, said they would have little trouble complying with tighter state standards without substantially increasing prices.

“We’re comfortable with our ability to meet the proposed levels and implementation dates,” Kenneth Lowe, Vizio’s co-founder and VP, told the paper.

Last month, the commission formally unveiled its proposal to require manufacturers to limit television energy consumption in a way that has been done with refrigerators, air conditioners and dozens of other products since the 1970s.

“We would not propose TV efficiency standards if we thought there was any evidence in the record that they will hurt the economy,” said Commissioner Julia Levin, who has been in charge of rule-making procedure. “This will actually save consumers money and help the California economy grow and create new clean, sustainable jobs.”

California’s estimated 35 million TVs and related electronic devices account for about 10% of all household electricity consumption, the Energy Commission staff reported. But manufacturers quickly are coming up with new technologies that are making even 50-inch-screen models much more economical to operate.

New features, such as light-emitting diodes that consume tiny amounts of power, special reflective films and sensors that automatically adjust TV brightness to a room’s viewing conditions, are driving down electricity consumption, the story said.

If all TVs met state standards, California could avoid the $600-million cost of building a natural-gas-fired power plant. Switching to more-efficient TVs could have an estimated net benefit to the state of $8.1 billion, the commission staff reported.

RBR-TVBR observation: As nice as these sets look, the next time you are at an electronics retailer – or even Wal-Mart or Target – put your hand on the screen of one of these larger plasma sets in operation… could almost fry an egg on some of them. They do put out a lot of power. However, where California is concerned, they should have long ago built more power plants to handle their growing population. Remember the blackouts and brownouts a few summers ago? Remember the ridiculous electric bills those consumers were paying? The state needs to look at its own inability to handle electric demands in general before it starts limiting what consumers can plug into their walls. Otherwise, next it will be washers and dryers, vacuums, etc.