5 More States Introduce TV Energy Efficiency Legislation


Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Washington and Wisconsin follow California’s lead and consider electronics efficiency regulations.

Feb. 12, 2010 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

As California goes, so goes the nation. That old saying now applies to state regulations setting energy-efficiency standards for TVs.

On the heels of the California Energy Commission (CEC) approving TV energy usage regulations, Maryland, Massachusetts (House Bill 3124, New York (Assembly Bill 9387), Washington (House bill 2416 and Senate Bill 6489 concerning electronics) and Wisconsin (Senate Bill 450 and Assembly Bill 649 concerning electronics) have introduced similar energy-efficiency legislation that regulate TVs, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

The bills in Massachusetts and Washington include additional electronics components beyond TVs. “Where other electronics are included, it’s often audio and video products, primarily compact audio and DVD or Blu-ray players. The focus is on [energy usage in] standby mode,” say Doug Johnson, senior director, technology policy, CEA.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s voluntary Energy Star program, meanwhile, “has been successful in monitoring standby power,” Johnson says. “These bills seem to disregard the success of the Energy Star program.”

A document supplied by the office of Massachusetts State Rep. Frank Smizik (D), co-sponsor of his state’s bill, indicates that “voluntary programs like Energy Star are valuable, but only reach some consumers.” It adds that it’s “designed to highlight the best 25 [percent] of products available” and that “minimum standards deliver much bigger savings by assuring that all purchases meet a basic level of efficiency performance.”

Example: Massachusetts Bill

The proposed legislation in Massachusetts, “An Act Relative to Expanding Energy Efficiency in the Commonwealth,” includes the following regulations:

  • Compact Audio or Shelf Systems — These “shall not use more than 2 watts in standby-passive mode for those without a permanently illuminated clock display and 4 watts in standby-passive mode for those with a permanently illuminated clock display …”
  • DVD Players — These “shall not use more than 3 watts in standby-passive mode …”
  • TVs 58 Inches and Under— In tier one, TVs “shall use not more than (0.20*screen area (inches[squared]) + 32) watts in on mode and no more than 1 watt in standby-passive mode. On and after January 1, 2013, televisions shall use no more than (0.12*screen area (inches[squared]) + 25 watts in on mode and no more than 1 watt in standby passive model …”

“We took a larger lead, trying to broaden energy efficiency,” says Smizik, comparing his co-sponsored bill to California’s.

The California regulations, however, are vehemently opposed by the CEA. It argues that the rules will negatively affect manufacturers and hurt commerce.

Johnson points out that, although the California regulations have been adopted, they haven’t been approved. “There is always a chance that the Office of Administrative Law in California will find problems with it,” Johnson says. It would make sense, he adds, for other states to wait and see how the California law affects business before pushing forward their own legislation.

Smizik’s office says that 85 percent of TVs on the market today meet proposed tier 1 standards and 35 percent meet tier 2 standards. It reiterates that TVs over 58 inches are exempt from proposed standards. This is similar to the California data presented by the CEC.

Johnson asserts that the CEC relied on outdated data to determine the regulations. He calls it “an incomplete accounting of the market when it comes to TV energy used today. So when they tried to calculate savings, they were calculating off an insufficient base line causing them to exaggerate energy savings projection.”

Cost of Energy Savings

“Energy efficiency has real cost in our industry just as it does in other industries,” Johnson says. “They [CEC and other states pushing legislation] ignore that. Manufacturers in our industry have invested millions of dollars over the years to develop and bring TVs with a variety of features. Energy efficiency is an objective, but not the only one.”

Smizik, Chairman of the Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change in the Massachusetts state legislation, contends that energy regulations will be good for business. “We’re certainly not anti-business. We think that consumers and businesses can work together to make a cleaner environment and less cost.”

Manufacturers want standardization of laws, Smizik says. “They don’t want one state to be different that all others.” He adds that state laws like these are the way to go until federal regulations are put into place.

“This is something that has to be done,” Smizik says. “It’s good for consumers. They’ll have smaller electric bills. It’s good for manufacturers because they’ll have to make their products more efficient and being able to say that helps them sell their products.”

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