California adopts tough new requirements on HDTV energy use: Visionary or draconian?

For years, California has had the nation's toughest emissions standards to counter the pollution from its massive volume of cars and trucks. Now it's turned its sites on the energy consumption coming from its residents' HDTVs.

For years, California has had the nation's toughest emissions standards to counter the pollution from its massive volume of cars and trucks. Now it's turned its sites on the energy consumption coming from its residents' HDTVs. The result? Earlier this week, the California Energy Commission unanimously passed new standards to mandate new HDTVs sold in the state be 30- to 50-percent more efficient—the most stringest standards in the world to date.

Proponents claim that the new standards would save California residents $1 billion annually in energy costs. Starting on January 1, 2011, HDTVs up to 58 inches in screen size will need to meet Tier 1 standards, while tougher Tier 2 standards will go into effect 2013. There are already 1,000 sets available that are Tier 1 ready, with 300 of today's sets could qualify for the Tier 2 requirements.

With the public far more aware of so-called green issues than even a few years ago, and new requirements in place for a Energy Star rating, companies like Sony have already responded by churning out sets that have reduced their power-sipping ways. You can either argue that California's new restrictions will help push manufacturers to even new energy breakthroughs or that throwing up more regulations when the industry has already been making market improvements in efficiency is overkill. While additional Energy Star guidelines for upcoming years are even more stringent than California's restrictions, the Energy Star rating is voluntary, so big plasmas wouldn't have to meet those Energy Star benchmarks to be on sale. However, they essentially will have to meet them to be sold in the most populous state in the country come 2011. Will there be separate versions of TV models that will be sold in California and the rest of the nation, as there are with cars?

Our poll a few weeks ago found that a vast majority of people weren't interested in regulating away power-hungry sets. Now that the possibility is more likely to happen in the Golden State, do you feel the same? Let us know in our TalkBack section.