California to adopt first U.S. energy-saving rules for computers
California regulators were poised on Wednesday to adopt the nation’s first mandatory energy efficiency rules for computers and monitors – devices that account for 3 percent of home electric bills and 7 percent of commercial power costs in the state.
The state Energy Commission said that when fully implemented, the plan will save consumers $373 million a year and conserve as much electricity annually as it takes to power all San Francisco’s homes.
Final approval of the standards, expected at a meeting in Sacramento of the five-member commission, caps a nearly two-year planning process that had input from environmentalists, industry, scientists and consumer groups.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group that helped devise the standards, has said the new standards would cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion in power generation by 700,000 tons a year.
The California standards set a benchmark for a machine’s overall energy use and leave manufacturers the flexibility to choose which efficiency measures to use to meet it – an approach that the NRDC says fosters innovation.
“This is a big deal,” said Mark Cooper, a policy analyst for the Consumer Federation of America, adding that computer ownership per capita in California ranks second in the world behind Sweden.
In California, computers and monitors draw an estimated 5,610 gigawatt-hours of electricity – roughly 3 percent of residential use and 7 percent of commercial use statewide – much of that while the devices sit idle.