The new restrictions, approved unanimously Wednesday by the five-member California Energy Commission, will limit the sales of TVs in the state to only those that meet energy requirements, starting in 2011. A second, stricter phase of requirements is slated to go into effect in 2013, and could include restrictions on sets larger than 58 inches in size.
The vote by the CEC culminates a months-long battle fought contentiously by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The CEA disputes the CEC’s findings and contends that the CEC’s data is flawed and the energy savings overstated, therefore violating California law by imposing greater costs on consumers, Electronic House reports.
The first-in-the-nation criteria is aimed at cutting the amount of electricity used by new high-definition TVs of up to 58 inches by a third starting Jan. 1, 2011. More stringent rules that take effect Jan. 1, 2013, would create a cumulative 50% power savings.
The standards don't apply to any of the approximately 35 million TV sets currently in use in California or units sold in the coming year.
"It's absolutely undeniable the benefits that this has for the people of California," said Commissioner James Boyd, an economist and former chief executive of the California Air Resources Board. "Efficiency is the cheapest and simplest way to save our citizens money, to provide a good quality of life and to drive our economy."
Since the sale of flat-panel televisions began to rocket early in the decade, TV-related power usage has more than tripled to 10 billion kilowatt-hours per year, accounting for nearly 10% of residential electricity consumption, said Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld, a nuclear physicist and UC Berkeley professor.
Opponents called the new rules unnecessary and overbearing, and California consumers gave them decidedly mixed views Wednesday, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Meanwhile, CEA officials said their studies have shown the regulations will hamper innovation and cost California more than 4,000 retail jobs and $46 million in lost taxes every year.
They did not rule out a legal challenge and charged that the decision was based on inaccurate and outdated information. Seth Greenstein, an attorney for the group, said flat-panel TVs have already made leaps and bounds when it comes to energy efficiency, but that manufacturers would not have had the funding to make those improvements without putting first-generation flat-screen TVs on the market, San Francisco Chronicle reports.