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Robert Silva

California Energy Commission Approves TV Efficiency Regulations

By November 18, 2009

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In a meeting filled with self-congratulatory comments about the hard work of its members and staff, as well as the leading role that California plays in impacting government regulations across the nation, the California Energy Commission by unanimous vote, formally adopted regulations on November 18th 2009, on how much power televisions can consume in California beginning in 2011, with stricter standards to take effect in 2013.

After waging a battle in previous hearings to prevent the implementation of the new regulations, there were no comments at this meeting from TV manufacturers or related industry spokespersons. However, the CEA (Consumer Electronics Asssociation) has been active in its opposition. Check out their side of the argument. The only comments made by those in attendance at this meeting were in support of the CEC's decision. However, the Consumer Electronics Association released an official response later in the day.

For more background on what has led up to this point, as well as my perspective on this issue, refer to my previous report on the California Energy Commission meeting held this past October 13th, 2009 .

Commentary

Now that California has made its decision to regulate television energy consumption, there is little that can be said that can change this fact. However, the CEC's decision was made despite the fact, even acknowledged by commission members and their supporters, that voluntary efforts, such as Energy Star and the natural progression of innovation has contributed significantly to increased energy efficiency in televisions and will continue to do so in the future.

However, the widely used Energy Star program is not considered good enough by the unelected state bureaucrats of the CEC. Also, to make matters worse, some industry supporters, such as Vizio, which essentially expressed no opposition because their products are currently meeting the proposed regulations ahead of time, have lent unjustified credibility to the CEC's proposal. These companies may regret their support as regulations get more stringent as time goes on.

Unfortunately, these regulations are only the starting point (admitted to by some commission members and others in attendance) to possible further regulations of not only TVs, but other home electrical devices in the future (home theater receivers? powered subwoofers? video projectors?). The attitude of the California Energy Commission is that voluntary programs are just not good enough; only the government can implement change and do what's best.

It is interesting to note that there are no representatives from consumer or tax-payer advocacy groups on the Commission. The board membership is weighted towards "environmental" advocates, lawyers, and professionals that basically toe-the-line on the current global warming-climate change theories. For a closer look at the members of the California Energy Commission, check out their official profiles.

As I have stated previously.."the underlying opposition to state-mandated TV energy regulations...isn't against the goal to design more efficient televisions. It is not only the fact that progress is already being made voluntarily, without government mandates. It is what CEC-mandated regulations may also lead to in the future; the regulation of all electrical devices used in the home and rationing of electricity by the State for the good of the people and the environment."

"What seems good for us and the right thing to do now, may not be so good for us later as the political winds and bureaucrats in charge change. Although many aspects of the proposed regulations may seem fair and not as burdensome to comply with now, there is no limit to how restrictive such regulations may become in the future. Current manufacturers and related suppliers, such as Vizio, that expressed support for the new proposed regulations at the hearing should take note."

"There is also the argument put forth by the CEC that as less electricity is being used consumers will save money on their electric bills. However, it has been my experience that when electricity consumption drops enough, the electric power providers, with approval of the State, have a habit of raising electricity rates, which negates most, or all, hoped-for savings. In other words, consumers may end up paying more for using less."

The argument is also put forth that the successful regulations of refrigerator energy consumption has been a landmark in government regulation and has contributed to California being the most energy efficient State with regards to per-capita energy consumption.

However, a refrigerator is not a TV. Refrigerators are constantly running 24 hours a day. An individual TV may only run a few hours a day, and in some cases, even only a few hours a week. In order words, TV power consumption in each household differs greatly. One person may have a so-called "energy-hogging" TV that only runs a few hours a week or a few hours a day while someone else may have an energy efficient TV that runs all day. Which person is consuming more energy?

In addition, the refrigerator argument also pre-supposes that TV manufacturers are not making progress towards energy efficiency on their own, which is to the contrary to the real facts as demonstrated by the previously mentioned voluntary Energy Star program.

If you think that my comments on this issue are somewhat alarmist...a warning to those in the rest of the country, this will be coming to you too. Also, just take a look at what is being proposed in the UK: "Personal Carbon Allowances"

Energy efficiency of televisions or any other electrical device really isn't the main issue in all this. It is not about what is best for the people, nor is it about saving money for consumers. It is really what is best for the California Energy Commission and all the "hard work" they do. As with all government agencies, they have to do something to justify their existence and their operating budget, especially in a time of state budget cutbacks. What is their "carbon footprint"?

I, for one, do indeed want my electronic devices, including my TV, to be energy efficient. However, I also want the best performance from them, and I want buy them for a fair price. I want the freedom to choose the size and type of TV I buy. I want voluntary, private, or government-private partnership, groups to provide me with information, whether that be information provided on product labeling or packaging, or via product literature so I can make my own decision.

I don't want unelected government representatives or bureaucrats that think they know what is best for me, making those decisions or telling me what limited decisions I am allowed to make.

For additional reports and alternative perspectives on the CEC's decision, check out: Forrest Hartman, About.com TV/Video, Gary Altunian, About.com Stereos, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Sacramento Bee, Earth Times, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA), and Clint DeBoer of Audioholics.

Comments
November 19, 2009 at 5:25 am
(1) Andrew P. says:

The California Energy Commission are a bunch of incompetent, meddling boobs that should be turned out to pasture. Their main claim to fame is sucking up tax money that would be better spent on fixing California’s pot-holed roads and rehiring thousands of laid-off teachers. Just like the low-flush toilets that require two flushes to do the job and end up using more water, these new regulations will create a booming business for electronics retailers in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon, where Californians will be going to buy their big-screen televisions. How much energy will be saved when you figure in the cost of gasoline to drive from San Jose to Reno and back? How much in sales tax money will be lost to neighboring states? Moreover, just to demonstrate how utterly idiotic these bureaucrats are, they’re pushing for pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars. If there are two such cars charging overnight per city block, it would bring the electric grid down. Instead of futzing around with bans on televisions and trying to get people to drive cars that can barely get them to work and back each day, California should be building nukes — lots of them. For starters, Diablo Canyon can be doubled in size; it’s been licensed for four reactors from the start. Then, build about five more 5,000 MW nuclear plants around the state, just to allow California to disconnect from filthy, out-of-state coal burning plants. Then, build another eight such plants to give the people the power they need for future growth.

November 19, 2009 at 6:31 am
(2) Jimenez says:

And that is why California is bankrupt…

At a time when America has lost the ability for job creation as well as bouncing back from a recession, we are making decisions that restrict more the market. Politics is killing the market. We are no longer the innovators, the inventors, the enterpreneurs. Stupidity is the name of America in the name of social politics.

November 20, 2009 at 1:21 pm
(3) Nota Sheep says:

Right you are, Jiminez… the state is bankrupt, both financially and morally. Stupid laws based on arbitrary criteria without any input from the manufacturers as to whether or not they can meet them? Imbeciles.

November 20, 2009 at 1:49 pm
(4) Nunuv Yurbiz says:

It is indeed curious how government raises rates (on income, energy, whatever) as the base amount (income, energy consumption, whatever) declines. As if government has a right to a certain income! In the case of energy, as that happens, it makes going off the grid that much more viable.

November 20, 2009 at 4:06 pm
(5) Vizio can do it says:

I own a Vizio and I love that TV. If one manufacturer can already do it, the rest can too. “These companies may regret their support as regulations get more stringent as time goes on.” is an ignorant comment because it becomes easier to save energy as electronics become more efficient. Technology gets better as time goes on, especially when rules are in place to force it. If one manufacturer can’t do it and others can, well tough luck. Welcome to the real world.

November 20, 2009 at 4:31 pm
(6) hometheater says:

Thank you for your comments -

On the surface your reasoning makes sense -However, you need to look below the surface.

If Vizio “can do it” and others are already “doing it” as a result of the voluntary efforts of the Energy Star program – In other words, current voluntary efforts are already making significant progress towards similar goals WITHOUT mandated regulations – then there is no need for government to get involved in mandating regulations in this area.

It is the CEC that isn’t living in the “real world” on this one.

The only purpose for mandated government regulation in the fashion that the CEC is doing is to get a foothold that will will enable them to “tighten the noose” on the use all electrical devices used by consumers, whether regulation of a specific device would result in any measurable benefits for the environment.

Here is an idea for the Energy Commission. Require it to reduce its own energy consumption by 33 per cent by 2011 and 49 per cent by 2013. If they
can’t do that then let’s just ban them from imposing any further energy consumption regulations on the rest of us.

Just think about all the paper, PC use time, lunch room microwave oven use, water cooler jugs, toilet flushes, room lighting, office heat, and air conditioning the CEC
has used in the two years it took them to come up with these regulations.

Robert Silva
Guide to Home Theater
http://hometheater.about.com

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NOTE: The above comments are my own personal views are not the official opinions of About.com or The New York Times.

November 21, 2009 at 3:21 pm
(7) Visitor says:

“tow-the-line” should be “toe-the-line” – like putting your toes on a line and not crossing it.

From Robert Silva – Thanks for the heads up – Correction Noted.

November 24, 2009 at 2:35 pm
(8) peter in dublin says:

Robert,
Thank you for this thoughtful post

My point is also that bans are wrong
- whatever one’s environmental stance.

As you say, we may not be able to stop a particular
piece of legislation, but that does not mean opposing it, for people elsewhere, and for other products, given the energy efficiency regulation craze that is sweeping the world
- which is a lot of easy token action for politicians,
who want to look as if they’re doing something,
rather than dealing with any actual energy and emission problems.

Therefore:

1.
Where there is a problem – deal with the problem!

Energy: there is no energy shortage
(given renewable/nuclear development possibilities, with set emission limits)
and consumers – not politicians – pay for energy and how they wish to use it.
Notice: If there was an energy shortage, its price rise would limit
people using it anyway.
No need to legislate for it!

It might sound great to
“Let everyone save by only allowing the manufacture of energy efficient products”

However:
Inefficient products that use more energy can have performance,
appearance and construction advantages
Examples (using cars, buildings, dishwashers, TV sets, light bulbs etc):
ceolas.net/#cc211x
For example, big plasma TV screens have image contrast and other
advantages along with their large image sizes.

Products using more energy usually cost less, or they’d be more energy
efficient already.
Depending on how much they are used, there might therefore not be any
running cost savings either.

Other factors contribute to a lack of savings:

If households use less energy,
then -as you say –
utility companies make less money,
and will just raise electricity prices to cover their costs.
So people don’t save as much money as they thought.

Conversely,
energy efficiency in effect means cheaper energy,
so people just leave TV sets etc on more, knowing that energy bills are lower,
as also shown by Scottish and Cambridge research
ceolas.net/#cc214x

Either way, supposed energy – or money – savings aren’t there.

2.
Taxation, while still wrong, is better than bans for all concerned.
This is not like a ban on dangerous lead paint!
It’s simply a ban to (supposedly) reduce electricity consumption.
TV set taxation based on energy efficiency – unlike bans – gives
Governor Schwarzenegger’s impoverished California Government income on
the reduced sales, while consumers keep choice.
This also applies generally,
to CARS, BUILDINGS, DISHWASHERS, LIGHT BULBS etc,
where politicians instead keep trying to define what people can or can’t use.
Politicians can use the tax money raised to fund home insulation
schemes, renewable projects etc that lower energy use and emissions
more than remaining product use raises them.
Energy efficient products can have any sales taxes lowered, making
them cheaper than today.
People are not just hit by taxes, they don’t have to buy the higher
taxed products – and at least they CAN still buy them.

———————-
Why energy efficiency regulations are wrong,
whether you are for or against energy and emission conservation
http://ceolas.net/#cc2x
Summary
Politicians don’t object to energy efficiency as it sounds too good to
be true. It is.
–The Consumer Side
Product Performance — Construction and Appearance
Price Increase — Lack of Actual Savings: Money, Energy or Emissions.
Choice and Quality affected
– The Manufacturer Side
Meeting Consumer Demand — Green Technology — Green Marketing
–The Energy Side
Energy Supply — Energy Security — Cars and Oil Dependence
–The Emission Side
Buildings — Industry — Power Stations — Light Bulbs and other
electrical products

November 30, 2009 at 5:06 pm
(9) Kayla says:

I don’t see how this will make CA even more bankrupt. It’s designed to SAVE energy, meaning less money spent on bills and more money invested into the CA economy. http://www.newsy.com/videos/california_makes_tv_energy_standards_more_stringent

November 30, 2009 at 5:40 pm
(10) Robert Silva says:

Thank you for your comments – However, you are missing some key points that
I mentioned in my commentary. Here is a summary and some further
elaboration:

1. The voluntary Energy Star Program sponsored by EPA has already made significant progress in TV energy efficiency WITHOUT mandated government regulations. In other words, government mandated regulations are not needed as the competitive market, current product innovation, education, product labeling, and the guidelines of the Energy Star program are doing the job.

2. A TV is not a refrigerator – Refrigerators run 24/7 in every household – whereas TV use varies widely from just a few hours a week to several hours a day, depending on household viewing habits.

3. The imposition of mandated energy regulations WILL NOT REDUCE the cost of energy for consumers. If per capita energy use goes down, the power utilities, with approval of the state, will simply RAISE ELECTRICITY RATES, in order to maintain the revenue stream – thus eliminating any energy cost savings. Also, with the increased use of Hybrid and all-Electric Cars, the demand for electricity could actually increase dramatically – thus
increasing costs to the consumer and increasing the need for more power plants. Either way, the consumer will pay.

4. The real goal of the California Energy Commission (by their own admission during meeting proceeding) is to continue to increase the number
of electrical devices subject to MANDATED regulation. In other words, the eventual rationing of electricity use, which I believe “could” lead at some future date to the personal Carbon Allowance program being considered in the UK: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/carbon/6527970/Everyone-in-Britain-could-be-given-a-personal-carbon-allowance.html

5. It is interesting to note that there are no representatives from consumer or tax-payer advocacy groups on the Commission. The board membership is
weighted towards “environmental” advocates, lawyers, and professionals that basically toe-the-line on the current global warming-climate change theories – theories which are not certain in the specific details of the exact problem or if there is one, or whether any specific solution will even have an effect on overall climate change trends. For a closer look at the members of the California Energy Commission, check out their official
profiles
.

Robert Silva

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