Don’t touch that dial! Or, in the words of a group calling itself Californians for Smart Energy, hands off those big-ass plasma TV screens clogging the showrooms of Sears and Best Buy. Oddly enough, the target of the allegedly intelligent group’s invective is that bastion of energy conservation, the California Energy Commission, which is proposing new efficiency standards for all televisions sold in the state. Then again, perhaps it isn’t so strange, considering that the former group bills itself as “a growing coalition dedicated to having a real discussion about meeting California’s energy needs—without job-killing regulations that are harmful to California’s economy.” Your Ruthness doesn’t think this sounds all that smart. Rather, it sounds like the same crap chamber of commerce types have been spoon-feeding us for the past 30 years.
Who the hell are these guys, anyway? CSE’s Web site lists more than a score of small independent retailers across the state and the usual anti-tax groups opposed to the commission’s proposed regulations, which, if approved, won’t take effect until January 1, 2011. According to a survey commissioned by the CSE, the new rules will cost California $50 million in tax revenue and 4,600 jobs, presumably because consumers will go out of state to buy less efficient but cheaper TVs. However, as the energy commission points out, “The second largest manufacturer of flat screen TVs in the nation, Vizio; television component manufacturers 3M and Agoura Technologies [and] the LCD Television Association … endorse the proposed regulations.” Go figure.
Small businesses are leaving the state in droves! Auntie’s been hearing this trope for decades, which begs the question: If all the businesses are leaving, why does California’s population continue to grow? And speaking of population, per capita residents of the state consume roughly 7,000 kilowatt-hours per year, compared to the national average of 12,000 kwh per person. It’s been that way for 30 years, thanks to the CEC’s foresight. Refrigerators, air conditioners and lighting have all been regulated during that time period. There’s no plausible reason why televisions, which now account for 10 percent of the state’s annual electricity use, should be exempt.