Increasing TV energy efficiency provides a triple benefit to California by boosting the economy, lowering electricity ratepayers' utility bills and helping the state meet its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 15% by 2020, Larson said. "Every dollar spent on energy efficiency returns $2 in savings," he added.
Such 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, industry officials say.
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 Dec. 15 Energy Commission workshop.
Rosenfeld was skeptical. DuBravac's numbers sounded "like arguments we heard from General Motors and Ford that SUVs are more profitable to make and create more jobs," he said. "There's a catch to it, as we all know."
What's more, Rosenfeld noted that a number of television makers already produce models that meet the proposed commission efficiency standards and that 87% of current stock complies with the planned 2011 threshold. That deadline may be pushed back a bit if the industry needs a little more time "to get used to the standards," he said.
More time might make the efficiency standards a lot more palatable, said Bob Smith, a training executive at AVAD, a Van Nuys wholesaler that supplies TVs and related equipment to independent installation contractors.
"I would hate to wake up one day and discover that 30% of my flagship products were no longer allowed to be sold." he said. "But I have no objection to regulations per se as long as there's enough lead time for manufacturers to meet the target."