January 06, 2009

Ban the TVs!!

Well, not exactly. But it’s the ‘ol bane of unintended consequences:

That 52-inch, flat-screen television on the family room wall may have a terrific picture, but there's a big drawback: It's an energy hog.

State regulators are getting ready to curb the growing power gluttony of TV sets by drafting the nation's first rules requiring retailers to sell only the most energy-efficient models, starting in 2011.

The consumer electronics industry opposes the regulations, expected to pass in mid-2009, and claims that they could remove some TVs from store shelves and slightly boost sticker prices.

Gee, ‘ya think? Two years to make TVs that meet the standards isn’t a heck of a lot of time in engineering terms. And, of course, people will just shop elsewhere for their plasma sets, like online, in states that have no such regulations.

Interesting to note is what the California Energy Commission cites as “backing” statistics. For instance, they say that

… the standards, once fully in place, would reduce the state's annual energy needs by an amount equivalent to the power consumed by 86,400 homes.

Is that power consumed annually by those 86,400 homes? It’s unclear, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that it is. Then there’s this tidbit:

During a peak viewing time when most sets are on, such as the Super Bowl, TVs in the state collectively suck up the equivalent of 40% of the power generated by the San Onofre nuclear power station running at full capacity.

OK, so? That’s one power plant (in the Union’s most populous state) on one day.

Once the “first tier” regulations come into effect, Californians who purchase the new sets will save – wait for it – an average of a whole … $18.48 per year!! Two years later when the “second tier” regs take hold, you can add on an average additional savings of … $11.76 a year!! Do CA regulators really think these piddly savings will entice folks to pay extra for a energy-saving plasma TV? Seems to me the net effect for consumers is zero, or is most likely a loss for them as it’s likely any price hike in mandated energy-saving TV sets will be greater than eighteen and a half dollars. Consumers will [most likely] save more buying a typical plasma set out of state at a lower cost, despite any energy savings.

Retired CA state worker Sam Ortega is quoted as saying "They should take them off the shelves. We need to monitor our energy. It's good for everybody." Yeah? Well, healthy foods are “good for everybody” too – do we begin mandating that McDonalds and Burger King serve only veggie burgers by 2010? Should we mandate that car manufacturers only design and make the safest cars imaginable so as to decrease crash deaths as much as possible?

Where does the nanny state cease?

Posted by Hube at January 6, 2009 05:17 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Hube, something to keep in mind, though, is that in many ways California requirements become a de facto national standard due to the size of their market. Think of how many school textbooks are written to California standards. I can remember when car shopping in the past that cars were advertised as meeting California emissions standards as a standard, not even an option, because it's not cost-effective to build to multiple emission standards. It's quite possible that this will become the standard for the entire nation.

do we begin mandating that McDonalds and Burger King serve only veggie burgers by 2010?

Shut up before you give them ideas!

Posted by: Paul Smith at January 6, 2009 05:24 PM

Yeah, but it'd be a lot easier for McD's and BK to modify their menus based on geography than for plasma TV makers (like the car makers you noted) to do same.

Posted by: Hube at January 6, 2009 06:33 PM

I just want to make sure that no one touches my Big Macs.

Posted by: Paul Smith at January 7, 2009 01:21 PM

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