Possible regulations on energy efficiency for TVs

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has proposed tightening restrictions on energy efficiency for televisions.

In a poll released Tuesday by Californians for Smart Energy, researchers found that 57 percent of Californians oppose the CEC’s proposal requiring TVs to be at or below energy efficiency standards by the deadline in 2011.

The regulation of television efficiency would cost the state more than $50 million and an estimated 4,600 jobs, according to the Californians for Smart Energy Web site.

The TVs most sensitive to the standards being set by the CEC are larger screen models and plasmas screens.

These types of sets are the least efficient and would be the most difficult for manufacturers to re-engineer to conform to the regulations.

At the moment the CEC says there are already 850 models of TVs that meet the standards and believe that many more will be available by the deadline.

Laura Braden, press secretary with Californians for Smart Energy believes the regulations are unnecessary and that consumer choice is more important.

Both the CEC and Californians for Smart Energy have basically the same goals, save consumers money and address energy saving issues.

This year alone, four million TVs will be purchased in California on top of the already 35 million that are in use today.

With more and more large screen TVs on the market and in the home, energy usage from the appliances are on the rise.

Energy consumption by television has been growing at eight percent per year and will continue to grow, according to a report released on the CEC’s Web site.

TVs currently use 10 percent of a California home’s electricity.

Susanne Garfield, Assistant Executive Director of the CEC’s Media and Communications Office denied the accusations made by Californians for Smart Energy.

“We don’t ban things at all,” Garfield said. “We instate manufacturing standards.”

According to Braden, the television industry is driven by the market and needs no government regulation to become more energy efficient.

“Even the plasma TVs that use more energy are already 30 percent more efficient than last year,” Braden said.

The CEC believes that the proposal will eventually end up conserving enough electricity to power roughly one million single-family homes in California and will save consumers money in the long run.

“We cannot enact these standards unless they pay back the consumer over the life of the appliance,” Garfield explained.

Garfield believes that Californians for Smart Energy are fearful that the industry will be too regulated.

Californians for Smart Energy and Braden say they are more worried about the impact these regulations could have on an already strained economy.

“Anything that picks winners or losers or bans products is going to hurt the economy and put a strain on small businesses,” Braden said.

At this point the issue is still unfolding. The CEC says that small business owners and consumers should not be worried and that Californians will benefit from the proposal.

However, some are still leery.

Jim Richards of Futurehome Systems & Design in Fresno doesn’t see why the government would implement further regulations, considering the financial crisis California is mired in.

“With nearly 15 percent unemployment in Fresno, why is the [CEC] proposing regulations that would further strain small businesses and working families?” Richards asked.

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