One Watt or not?

An amendment to the US ‘Energy Advancement and Conservation Act of 2001,’ would create a 1W stand-by energy consumption standard for all US ‘household appliances.’

But not everyone is in favour. The US Consumer Electronics Association, for example, doesn’t think this is such a good idea at all.

The Conservation Act itself has already been passed out of the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, and is now scheduled for floor action in the full House in the next few days.

The Markey Amendment to the act, named after Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), will require all electronics to comply with a 1W standard for standby mode during the next two to seven years.

According to the CEA, it establishes an ‘extremely cumbersome administrative process’ whereby ‘a manufacturer or importer must apply to the Secretary of Energy for an exemption to the standard for a specific product.’ These, apparently, are mandatory minimum energy efficiency requirements, not like the voluntary ‘Energy Star’ type specifications that are currently in effect.

To apply for an exemption, a manufacturer must provide supportive evidence and detailed analysis. The Markey Amendment also requires the Secretary of Energy to establish a test procedure for household electronics.

Analog TVs, along with digital TVs, digital video recorders, and digital set-top boxes are exempted from the one-watt mandate; However, they are required under the Markey Amendment to undergo a government rulemaking to set an energy efficiency standard. Analog TVs are required to undergo the rulemaking within two years following the passage of the Act, and DTVs, DVRs and DSTBs in 2007.

In addition to the House Commerce Committee, the Bush Administration has been supporting the 1W standby standard. But according to the CEA, neither the Bush Administration nor the House Commerce Committee has presented any cost-benefit analysis in support of the 1W standard. They claim it’s just a ‘sound bite’ for policy makers. But if it passes Congress and is signed by the President, it will become law.