My new column at FreedomPolitics.com:
They are coming for your television. The Orange County Register reports the California Energy Commission is considering banning the sale of big-screen TV sets that don't meet new, higher energy efficiency standards.
The proposed regulations will make many big-screen sets illegal. By 2011, the commission wants all large-screen TVs to use 33 percent less power. By 2013, sets must consume 49 percent less power. The bureaucrats say the regulations will reduce global warming and save consumers $18 to $30 a year.
If the law was enacted today, the Consumer Electronics Association says about 25 percent of TVs would be non-compliant, most of those being sets with screens of 40-inches or more. Considering that most manufacturers already work to meet voluntary Energy Star standards, it is questionable how much more state agencies can demand from manufacturers without forcing them to pass on these added costs to consumers, which means more expensive TVs.
There is also a huge question about how such a law would be enforced. Many California consumers would simply choose to purchase non-compliant TVs on the Internet, or drive to stores in nearby Nevada, Arizona or Oregon. As a result, local California-based retailers, who provide jobs and income to state residents, stand to lose the most from the ban.
The Energy Commission insists that it is not "banning" big screen TVs, but simply setting higher efficiency standards. But setting standards that few, if anyone, can actually meet is really just prohibition by another name.
The energy commissioners are really concerned about our prosperity. They fret that too many people are buying bigger TVs, hooking them up to Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), cable boxes, computers and digital cameras. We simply can't have that. These home electronics now consume about 10 percent of household electricity, according to PG&E. So here comes the state's nanny to tell taxpayers how they should be using electricity and to tell us we are using too much of it watching big screen TVs.