The darker side of California’s new TV wattage limits

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The California Energy Commission unanimously approved a regulation today capping the power consumption of televisions sold in California starting in 2011. Although the Consumer Electronics Assn., which represents the world’s largest TV makers, was apoplectic about the action, The Times’ Marc Lifsher reports that one faction -- the LCD TV Assn. -- was all smiles. The reason? LCD sets are less power-hungry than plasma TVs. In other words, as so often happens when the government regulates products, it favors one technology over another -- and manufacturers know it, even if the regulators insist otherwise.

One other interesting sidelight: Seth Greenstein, outside counsel for the CEA, said the rules would bar many hotels and hospitals from buying televisions because such centrally controlled sets can’t meet the new limits on power consumption when they’re turned off. Philips Electronics warned the commission about this issue, to no apparent avail.


Read more about the possible unintended consequences of the new rule at the Times’ opinion blog, Opinion L.A.

Corrected, 4:31 p.m.: In my haste, I incorrectly identified Seth Greenstein as Seth Greenspan in the original version of this post.

-- Jon Healey

Healey writes editorials for The Times’ Opinion Manufacturing Division. Follow him on Twitter: @jcahealey