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Consumer Electronics to Meet the California Regulatory Monster

The auto industry has been facing it for years. And now it seems that the eye of California environmental regulators, in the form of the California Energy Commission, is settling on consumer electronics, with proposed standards on television energy consumption, according to AOL Daily Finance. That could mean de facto standards for the rest of the country, given the dynamics of electronics manufacturing.

Under the proposal, there would be two tiers of mandatory efficiency standards for all televisions measuring 58 inches or smaller, one beginning in 2011 and the second in 2013. The rationale is that ten percent of the state's home power consumption comes from the combination of televisions, DVRs, DVD players, and cable boxes, so trimming power use could result in big savings. According to the state, more than 1,000 TV models meet the 2011 standards now, but only 290 would meet the 2013 Tier 2 standards, and not a single one of them a plasma TV over 40 inches.

That has some interesting ramifications for the television industry. Clearly companies could continue to sell larger plasma sets inside California if they could find ways to lower the power consumption, and continue carrying the units outside the state. As for other types of sets, unlike the auto industry, the price per unit does not provide as much flexibility to have separately engineered product lines, with one for California and the other for the rest of the U.S., as automobile companies have had for years. Economics could force the manufacturers to make the California requirements drive all their design and manufacturing for the North American market. And the industry isn't necessarily crazy about that:

At an Oct. 13 CEC hearing, CEA representative Douglas Johnson said: "The core concern here really has to do with the element of the commission's proposed regulations that would impose a mandatory power-consumption limit on televisions. Such regulation undercuts innovation, it does harm consumers, ultimately, and it certainly harms TV manufacturers in related industries."
The CEA will need some luck for that argument to stick. Detroit's been trying it, to no avail, for years.

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