How Green

California May Ban TVs that Draw Too Much Power

California residents are widely regarded as some of the most eco-friendly citizens in the nation. Now state lawmakers aim to make local consumer electronics extra green as well. A rule before the California Energy Commission would impose the nation's first energy-efficiency requirements for flat-screen TVs, a mandatory standard that is expected to be copied by other states.

"The goal here is a simple one," Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told commissioners at a hearing Tuesday. "We want to ensure that every TV sold in California is an efficient one."

While there has been tremendous effort among consumer electronics and PC manufacturers to eliminate hazardous toxics and to reduce the overall power consumption of our gadgets and devices, progress comes in dribs and drabs without official oversight, some argue.

To that end, a vote on the standard could come as early as next month.

Some manufacturers argue a mandatory power standard would hamper innovation, limit consumer choice and hurt California electronics retailers. For example, the LA Times spoke with Doug Johnson, the Consumer Electronics Association's senior director for technology policy. He argued that "voluntary efforts are succeeding without regulations," warning that too much government interference could hamstring industry innovation and prove expensive to manufacturers and consumers.

At January's consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, I noticed that pretty much every manufacturer of televisions was already touting innovations to reduce power consumption. But did that message get through to consumers? When you bought your new high-definition flat screen TV, did energy consumption factor into the decision?

Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.