‘Vampire slayer’ bill aimed at electronics

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, June 16, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The "California Vampire Slayer Act of 2006" is a clever title for a bill, but the content of AB 1970 (Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys) is no laughing matter.  

The bill creates a state-level mandatory labeling requirement for consumer products using electricity, including electronics.  A manufacturer of an appliance sold in California would be required under the bill to place a power content label on the products that shows the energy consumption and its annual operations costs when the appliance is turned on, turned off, or in standby mode.  

The purpose of the bill, according to Assemblyman Levine’s office, is to ensure that consumers are able to make informed choices about the costs of operating new appliances and are made aware of how much electricity an appliance uses even when it is in an "off" or "standby" mode.  "Vampire" is a term used to describe an electronic device that uses electricity even when the consumer thinks it is not.

The problem is that AB 1970 would create customer confusion.  The bill would create mandatory labels with no basis for a fair comparison of products by consumers.  Furthermore, statements about energy consumption depend on consumer use.  Consumer use varies significantly with high tech products, which typically contain multiple features and functions that are used in many ways.

The national "Energy Star" program already provides a well-recognized label for consumers at the point of sale.  The widespread use of this market-driven program has resulted in measurable energy efficiency improvements in addition to providing a strong signal to consumers concerned about energy use.  Furthermore, voluntary standards are being developed for two major product categories – televisions and set-top boxes.

AB 1970 also conflicts with the national distribution system for consumer products.  Electronics manufacturers do not sell their products directly into California but instead sell to retailers and distributors through regional and national distribution centers.  The bill’s state-specific requirements would be costly for both manufacturers and retailers and cause an array of logistical problems.

AB 1970, which will be heard in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee on June 20, is opposed by CMTA and a number of other organizations, including the American Electronics Association and the California Retailers Association. 
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