CEA Slams Calif. Decision on ‘Broken’ Energy Policies
California Senate quashes AB 1850; CEA accuses California Energy Commission of using “old data to justify new regulations and claim energy savings when little or none actually existed.”
That legislation would have provided oversight of the California Energy Commission (CEC), which has authority to regulate the energy efficiency of CE appliances – such as plasma TVs, on which the commission famously imposed harsh limitations in 2009. (CEA fought that battle, too.)
CEA VP of technology policy Doug Johnson says, “Reforms such as those outlined in AB 1850 are critical to ensuring a fair, balanced and rigorous approach on the CEC’s desire to regulate computers, servers, game consoles, imaging equipment and other high tech devices.”
He accuses the CEC in three separate rulemakings of using “old data to justify new regulations and claim energy savings when little or none actually existed.”
Bad data creates a two-fold problem, he says: Taxpayers must pay for “unnecessary regulation” and the resulting regulations could undermine energy efficiency and emissions reduction policy goals.
As CEA puts it, AB 1850 would have required the state to use current data and eliminate outdated and ineffective regulations. It would have put checks and balances into place for energy-related regulations and assured that “proposed standards do not significantly affect retail prices and do not burden small- and medium-sized businesses, competition, and interstate and intrastate commerce.”
Opposition to AB 1850 was led by the CEC, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), and the bill ultimately was defeated by State Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), according to the CEA.
California has been one of the most aggressive states in the country when it comes to energy regulation, for example, passing the controversial Title 24, which mandates occupancy sensors in high-trafficked areas of the home (among other things).
Introduced by Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon (D- Whittier), AB 1850 originally had nine “common-sense” provisions, the CEA explains:
Protection of economic growth and innovation: AB 1850 required an Energy Commission finding that proposed regulations do not harm employment, competition, consumer choice, or product innovation and utility.
Protection for California consumers and small businesses: AB 1850 required an Energy Commission finding that proposed standards do not significantly affect retail prices and do not burden small- and medium-sized businesses, competition, and interstate and intrastate commerce.
Real-world economic factors: AB 1850 required that discount rates, payback calculations, and life-cycle cost estimates use interest rates that are applicable to consumer financing and the average life of the product before replacement.
Quality of data used to justify regulations: AB 1850 required the Energy Commission to use the most current data possible and, wherever feasible, use data not older than one year prior to the commencement of a formal rulemaking.
Policy choice flexibility: AB 1850 authorized Energy Commission standards for minimum levels of operating efficiency but only where less restrictive, non-regulatory or regulatory alternatives are not feasible.
Reduction of compliance burdens: AB 1850 required Energy Commission policy outcomes that are designed to minimize regulatory compliance burdens.
Elimination of regulations no longer needed: AB 1850 explicitly allowed for the elimination of Energy Commission regulations that were no longer necessary.
Recognition of the energy-saving attributes of products: AB 1850 required Energy Commission analysis that accounts for the energy-saving attributes of electronics used for activities such as Internet commerce, online meetings, telework, and smart grid.
Objectivity of retained consultants: AB 1850 required the Energy Commission to determine the expertise, objectivity and independence of retained consultants.
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]
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