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 .
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.