Californian regulators are plotting to get large TVs that use too much electricity off retail shelves. The California Energy Commission is expected to introduce rules this summer requiring retailers by 2011 to sell only TVs that meet guidelines of the federal Energy Star program, and the rules would further tighten in 2013.
The regulators argue energy hogs like 48" plasma TVs can draw more power than a large refrigerator, even if the set is used only a few hours a day. TV makers say if the rules were implemented today nearly a quarter of all flatscreen TVs - and all but one plasma TV on the market today - would no longer be allowed for sale in the state of California.
Retailers are afraid the new energy conservation rule will cost them a lot of sales, as they believe people will buy more TVs online or from out-of-state retailers.
The average plasma TV uses more than three times as much energy as an old cathode-ray tube set, and a 48-inch plasma TV can draw more power than a large refrigerator — even if the set is used only a few hours a day, California regulators said.
Liquid-crystal display, or LCD, TVs guzzle a little less — about 43% more energy than tube sets, according to a study by PG&E. LCDs now account for about 90% of the 4 million TVs sold in California annually.
Rear-projection TVs, which fall between LCDs and plasmas in energy use, also would be covered by the new standards.
Retailers and manufacturers say many newer flat-screen TVs use less power than tube sets, noting that 100 available models already go beyond the standards California wants to reach by 2013. The problem is that the best-quality screens use the most electricity.
Industry leaders also say the proposed standards threaten to limit consumer choice, drive shoppers to the Internet and put specialty retailers out of business. Nearly a quarter of all flat-screen TVs — and all but one plasma TV on the market today — would not be allowed for sale in California once the rules are fully implemented, according to the Plasma Display Coalition.