16 April 2009

The latest dire threat: Large Televisions

http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2009/03/california-tv.html

The California Energy Commission is proceeding with a proposal this summer to ban the sale of TV sets that do not meet new efficiency standards when they are turned on and displaying a picture — a measure of power consumption that is not currently regulated at all.

But the market and technological advances may already be advancing this goal, as large-screen plasma sets fall out of favor and LCDs become more energy efficient.

The CEC proposal is set up as a two-tiered system. The first enforces efficiency standards beginning in 2011 and would save 3,831 gigawatt hours (and bring down overall TV energy consumption by 33%) by placing a cap on the active mode power usage (in watts) of individual TVs. Current standards in California only regulate TVs in standby mode, at a cap of 3.0 watts.

Micromanaging BS. Why should they care that I save ~166 kWh by buying a more efficient telly or by turning up the thermostat a smidge in the summer or by switching the setting on my refrigerator or by doing any of the millions of other things I could conceivably do voluntarily to save energy? For that mater what business is it of theirs if I decide not to increase the efficiency of my television or do anything else and just continue paying the $24 necessary to run the less efficient model? If my 166 kWh are imposing some negative externality on Californians then raise the price of electricity instead of meddling around in exactly how and where I reduce my energy usage.

(I'm taking liberties with the first person here since I neither live in California nor want a television large enough to be affected.)
Link

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised since the California Air Resource Board is considering legislation to ban black cars since they use a bit more air conditioning to cool down when it's sunny. Where you decide to set the thermostat in your car, to say nothing of how you drive or when you just roll down the windows instead of using the AC absolutely swamps any effect that paint color may have on energy consumption. There is no conceivable way this is a reasonable measure, but it does give the busybodies an opportunity to Do Something!

From the state's FAQ on the new TV rules:
Consumers overwhelmingly want efficient TVs, retailers now will be able to market their products to a desirable demographic.
Nothing is stopping retailers from marketing efficient TVs to a "desirable demographic"— by this I can only conclude they mean "everybody in California" — currently. In fact sales of efficient televisions already out-pace less efficient models. If consumers so overwhelming want efficient televisions why would you even need to ban less efficient ones?

How about this non sequitur: "Despite increased population ... energy efficiency standards have helped keep per capita electricity consumption in California flat for the past 30 years." Somebody doesn't understand what per capita means. Oh, and California has driven a big chunk of it's heavy industry out of state in the last three decades, so I'd like to see this limited to residential usage statistics. Also, California has some of the highest energy prices in the country, that just might have something to do with it. As a matter of fact, the eight states with the lowest per capita energy usage are the eight states with the highest electricity prices. It's almost as if there's some sort of talon or paw or hand, yes a hand, one that we can't see, that is leading people to use less of something when the price is high. (See Coyote Blog for details and methodology.)

Here's another 'answer' from the CEC: "Energy efficiency is the cleanest and cheapest form of 'renewable' energy." Efficiency is the ratio of outputs to inputs; it isn't a form of energy at all. As such it can't be said to be renewable, whether with or without inexplicable quote marks.

"In most cases, adding efficiency technologies in televisions do not result in increased cost of the television because other components can be reduced, offsetting any increased cost." Industrial design does not work that way. If making more efficient appliances were costless in the short run then only more efficient units would be manufactured since it would give producers a costless way to add a valuable feature.

"After the existing stock of televisions is replaced, these proposed standards will save 3,831 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2011; 2,684 GWh in 2013." The proposal wouldn't go into effect until 1/1/2011, so are they saying that the 3831 GWh figure that the press is throwing around is assuming complete turnover of all large televisions in under 12 months? That's how it reads to me.

PS What a surprise, there's a Baptists-and-Bootleggers angle to this:

Those who'd benefit from the new law don't share the same belief [that the new law would harm manufacturers]. The LCD Manufacturers Association, including up-and coming TV makers like Vizio, are supporting the proposal.

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