Monday, January 5, 2009

First they took our light bulbs, now they want our TVs

The Federal government in all its wisdom has dictated to Americans what light bulbs we can buy and now California wants to tell us what kind of televisions will be sold there, and therefore, what televisions Californians can buy. As goes California in socialist shenanigans, so goes the rest of the country.

Starting in 2011, state regulators want retailers to sell only the most energy-efficient models of LCD and plasma sets. State regulators are getting ready to curb the growing popularity of TV sets by drafting the nation's first rules requiring retailers to sell only the models it approves, starting in 2011. The industry opposes the new rules and warns of higher prices.

According to these same regulators targeted television sets use a lot of electricity, but other appliances do as well. California cannot tolerate letting its residents use as much electricity as they want, and are willing to pay for. So big brother once again knows what’s good for us better then we do.

As a result of inane electric power regulations, supply of electricity during peak usage hours is threatened. Rather than fix the policies that deprive California of plentiful low cost electricity by forbidding purchase of electricity from coal-powered plants, the state is opting to enter homes and select which appliances should be used; television today and still more electric appliances later. With the excuse that the power grid is strained, the California Energy Commission says it is looking for ways to relieve the demand. Figures are given for the number of homes that can be served by the restricting sales in California to what the state deems worthy televisions and appliances, but only if the draconian rules are implemented.

The state estimates that televisions account for about 10% of the average Californian's monthly household electricity bill. “Huge” savings for consumers are contemplated. Are you ready for this, when the regulations go into effect in two tiers, purchasers of Tier 1-compliant TVs would save an average of $18.48 off their residential electric bill in the first year of ownership. Tier 2 sets would save an additional $11.76 a year.

Imagine that, after telling us what kinds of televisions we are able to buy, the savings to the customers would be a whole $18.48 IN ONE YEAR.

The regulations would be phased in over two years, with a first tier taking effect on January 1, 2011, and a more stringent, second tier on January 1, 2013.

California socialists in government are proud of there impact on freedom of choice. They say over the years California has “pioneered” similar tough standards for appliances, home insulation and food service equipment that eventually were adopted by the federal government and promoted to consumers with utility rebate programs.

"I think this is basically doable," said Energy Commission member Arthur Rosenfeld.

"Refrigerators and air conditioner manufacturers have grown up with standards, and, now, they are generally considered successes" he said. "But this is a new wrinkle for the TV industry." (In other words “we have gotten away with this before so the mind-numbed public will let us have our way again with televisions.”)

"The passion is correct. The proposal is not," said Doug Johnson, senior director of technology at the Consumer Electronics Assn. in Arlington, Va. "We can accomplish this without regulation as a result of innovation and voluntary approaches."

Mike McMaster, president of Wilshire Entertainment Inc., also criticized a rush to impose TV efficiency standards saying it "would be basically the end of our business." His locations employ 54 people and specialize in sales and installation of custom home theater systems centered on extremely large TVs. "It would kill dealerships because people would buy on Amazon and have them shipped in and maybe not pay sales tax," he said. "If a customer wants a 12-cylinder car or a 60-inch plasma that uses this much energy, they're going to get it."

Power savings should be encouraged, but not at the expense of businesses, large and small, that may see sales fall if they don't offer a wide variety of televisions. The industry isn't sure how the regulations will affect it. The Consumer Electronics Assn. presented three scenarios to the commission, showing 10%, 20% and 30% drops in product availability and each of their potential financial effects. “If 30% of televisions fail to meet standards and can't be sold, California could lose $130 million in tax revenue and 15,800 jobs”, Shawn DuBravac, an economist with the Consumer Electronics Assn., testified at a December 15 Energy Commission workshop.

Bob Smith, a training executive at AVAD, a Van Nuys wholesaler that supplies TVs and related equipment to independent installation contractors said "I would hate to wake up one day and discover that 30% of my flagship products were no longer allowed to be sold."

Manufacturers of electronics and appliances do have an interest in making more electricity-efficient products for competitive reasons but should not be dictated to by the state. We should all be concerned about the state dictating consumer choices.

Should any state be able to shut down small businesses which are the backbone of our economy and provide most employment? I don’t think so.

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