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Calif. Should Not Set Nat’l CE Energy Policy

As you probably have heard, the California Energy Commission (CEC) is about to decide to accept proposed restrictions on power use by TVs sold in that state. Tuesday the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) submitted final comments to the CEC regarding the restrictions.

Some non-Californians may say, “Who cares?” Anyone in the other 49 states should, because you don’t have a vote or a voice in the matter. CEA and some industry members think everyone should because they are concerned that a decision by California may set a de facto national standard.

I won’t repeat the technical arguments raised by CEA in its comments. Instead you can click here to read our news story on the matter.

Maybe CEA is right. Maybe the CEC means well. But as Doug Johnson, CEA’s technology policy and international affairs senior director, told TWICE at its Greener Gadgets Conference back in March, the CEC proposal was backed by the state’s major energy supplier – Pacific Gas & Electric.

A power company makes a proposal to its state’s energy commission for it to regulate energy usage?

The old bromide is that “all politics is local,” so do you think the CEC is going to listen to a trade association from Washington? Or their friendly local power company? Call me skeptical, but I don’t think this is the best way to decide upon a major nationwide issue.

If this proposal becomes law in California, manufacturers are not going to develop TV lines for one state and other lines for the rest of the nation. From just an inventory management perspective, it would be a nightmare. And that’s just one of the challenges.

Of course for the CEC and backers of its proposal – like Pacific Gas & Electric – that is not their concern.

What is obvious is that energy efficiency and the well-being of our country’s environment is everyone’s responsibility and concern. And in this case the energy efficiency of HDTVs has improved dramatically over the past several years, and that progress should continue.

What is needed is congressional legislation on the energy efficiency of CE and other household products. Granted there have been some recent questions on the voluntary Energy Star program, but at the very least the experience will this overall successful effort should be kept in the mix as a frame of reference for any proposed national legislation.

Congressional deliberations will allow the opinions of many be heard and considered, rather than have one state legislature dictate policy on such a vital national issue.