By Jennifer Lance
If you live in California and want a new television, you may have to move to get that super big flat screen of your dreams. Governor Schwarzenegger has given his support to the California Energy Commission's (CEC) proposal to limit TV energy consumption. Current CEC figures estimate TV power usage to be approximately "10 per cent of household energy consumption in the state". On October 13, 2009, a public hearing was held on the issue, and a vote may come as soon as November 4, 2009 to regulate maximum energy consumption for televisions.
Flat screen TVs have already come under scrutiny by environmentalists for using nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), a greenhouse gas "17,000 times stronger than carbon dioxide"; however, California is more concerned with their energy usage. The Telegraph reports:
Experts say that the large LCD or plasma screen sets can use three times as much power as traditional models…The new law, the first of its kind in America, would set maximum energy consumption standards for TVs that would be implemented over two years from January 2011. Similar energy requirements have applied for decades to electrical appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners.
Of course, the Consumer Electronics Association lobby is fighting the proposal claiming it will hurt the economy. The association claims "Voluntary efforts are succeeding without regulations," and that consumers' budgets will help them decide what model is the best to buy. The CEC Commissioner Julia Levi responded to such claims by stating the regulations would "actually save consumers money and help the California economy grow and create new clean, sustainable jobs". The LA Times further explains:
The payoff could be big for TV owners, said Ken Rider, a commission staff engineer. Average first-year savings from reduced electricity use would be an estimated $30 per set and $912 million statewide, he said.
If all TVs met state standards, Rider added, 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.
That's a lot of money for cash strapped California.
Although many media reports have claimed the new regulations would "ban power-guzzling big-screen TVs," the truth from the CEC is "the state is not banning any type of TV. Consumers have the freedom to choose any type and size of television that meets the efficiency standard." New TVs will simply need to meet energy efficiency standards, of which 1000 models already on the market comply.