State energy officials are nearing a decision on a ban on new energy-hogging televisions.
The first-in-the-nation regulations would phase in starting in 2011 and would set a cap on the amount of power a TV can draw. Large sets would be allowed to use more power than small ones. All models larger than 58 inches would be exempt from the regulations, though they may be covered in the future.
All televisions would have to draw less than 1 watt of "standby" power when turned off and plugged in. And new televisions would be tagged with labels giving details on energy demands, as refrigerators and other appliances are.
The rules, scheduled for a vote as soon as Nov. 18, would have no impact on televisions already in homes.
The California Energy Commission says the controls will help keep the proliferation of bigger televisions from swamping the state's other efforts to save energy and fight global warming. Meeting the standards won't drive up television prices, the agency argues, and consumers will save on electricity bills.
Industry groups protest that televisions are getting more efficient on average anyway and that market forces and voluntary federal efficiency programs will be enough to continue that trend. They say the proposed California standards would limit manufacturers' options to introduce new technologies that may appeal to buyers, regardless of how much power they draw.
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