For Immediate Release: January 12, 2012
Media Contact: Adam Gottlieb - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Plugs in Energy Efficiency Rules
for Battery-Charged Appliances
First-in-the-Nation Rules Will Save Consumers Over $300 Million Annually

SACRAMENTO - California just got smarter about saving energy for consumers and businesses.

The California Energy Commission today approved a first-in-the-nation energy efficiency standard that will reduce wasted energy by battery chargers commonly used to power cell phones, laptop computers, power tools, and other devices.

"When you consider powering California's plugged-in lifestyle, these new efficiency standards will save consumers money and energy," said Energy Commission Chair Dr. Robert Weisenmiller. "The standards will reduce the wasted electricity from powering our day-to-day appliances by 40 percent and help California meet its strategic climate policy goals. Once again, California is setting the standard for energy efficiency, keeping the state's dominance as the most energy efficient state per capita."

Battery chargers for both large and small appliances are composed of (1) a power supply (corded plug), (2) a battery, and (3) internal charging circuitry. Cell phones, digital cameras, cordless telephones, laptop and tablet computers, power tools, electric toothbrushes, electric razors, commercial barcode scanners, and larger items such as golf carts and forklifts all use battery charger systems.

There are an estimated 170 million chargers in California households, an average of 11 battery chargers per household. While many manufacturers produce energy efficient electronic devices, many products on the market lack efficient charging technology. The proposed standards can save nearly 2,200 gigawatt hours (GWh) each year -- or enough energy to power nearly 350,000 homes or a city roughly the size of Bakersfield. Once fully implemented, California ratepayers will save more than $300 million annually and eliminate 1 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

Energy consumed to charge batteries is increasing in California. Because nearly two-thirds of the 8,000 GWh of electricity consumed in California by battery charger systems (or battery chargers) is wasted by inefficiency, the Energy Commission proposed appliance efficiency standards requiring battery chargers to consume less energy while providing the same performance.

As a result of the state's forward-thinking, energy efficient building and appliance standards, California's electricity consumption per capita has remained flat for the past 35 years compared to the rest of the nation, which has increased its energy consumption by at least 40 percent. Since 1976, energy efficiency standards for appliances alone have saved California ratepayers $36 billion dollars and 20,000 GWh.

Historically, California has been a leader on energy efficiency standards that become the basis for federal standards. The Energy Commission has approved energy saving standards for many household products, including: refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, heat clothes dryers, pumps, boilers, furnaces water heaters, lighting, and most recently, televisions.

The Energy Commission began working on these energy efficiency standards in April 2008. Since then, the Commission's staff has collaborated with a variety of stakeholders including the state's major utility companies, environmental organizations, manufacturing interests, and consumer groups in a public process to develop cost-effective and feasible regulations.

Supporters include: Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Gas Company, Southern California Edison, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environment California, Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), Earth Justice, the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT), NW Energy Coalition, Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PMSA), and the government of Australia.

Consumer chargers used in cell phones, personal care devices, and power tools will be required to comply with the new standards by February 1, 2013. Industrial charger compliance (e.g. forklifts) is required by January 1, 2014. Compliance for small commercial chargers (such as walkie talkies and portable barcode scanners) is required by January 1, 2017.

Frequently Asked Questions - Battery Charger Systems

What others are saying:

Natural Resources Defense Council
"As a result of the new battery charger efficiency standards set by the Commission, Californians can now be assured that the battery powered products we all love will also come with more efficient and up to date charging systems," said Natural Resources Defense Council Energy Program Director Ralph Cavanagh. "These types of pioneering standards help Californians save billions of dollars due to lower electric bills, and are the fastest and cheapest way to reduce global warming pollution."

Environment California
"Our smart phones and other electronic devices are about to get a whole lot smarter by not wasting electricity and our money," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, director of clean energy programs at Environment California. "This is a good deal for consumers and the environment and a no-brainer for California to once again provide leadership on."

Southern California Edison
"SCE supports the California Energy Commission's adoption of the battery charger systems standards, which will help customers be more energy efficient and avoid more than 2 billion kilowatt-hours in wasted electricity usage. Once the measure is fully implemented, Californians will save a total of $300 million each year on their electricity bills, with the added environmental benefits of decreasing carbon emissions by approximately one million tons," said Gene Rodrigues, director of energy efficiency and customer solar for SCE.

Pacific Gas & Electric
"PG&E is a strong supporter of codes and standards as a vital tool in helping to achieve California's clean energy goals. The battery charger standards adopted today are a very cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption, reduce customer costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Steve Malnight, vice president of customer energy solutions for PG&E.

San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas
"SDG&E and SoCalGas are pleased to support the Energy Commission's proposed battery charger systems standards. This standard is an important next step to address the battery charger system efficiency of hundreds of plug load products," said Hal Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for SDG&E and SoCalGas. "The proposed standards would present a remarkable energy savings opportunity for all battery chargers and plays an important role in supporting the California Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan."

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
"The standards announced today are a testament to California's ongoing leadership in energy efficiency. These smart measures will save consumers and businesses money, while reducing pollution and alleviating demand on the state's power grid. California once again serves as a model for sensible, cost-effective policies paving the way for greater energy savings at the national level," said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
"Incremental improvements provided in these standards are essential to the long term success of a comprehensive energy strategy," said Frankie McDermott, director of customer services for SMUD. "For decades SMUD has championed energy efficiency as a critical step in solving California's energy challenges. SMUD sees the CEC's continued improvement of energy efficiency standards for appliances and electronics as a moderate and balanced solution while allowing sufficient time to allow compliance across the industry."

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies. Members of the Energy Commission are Chair Dr. Robert Weisenmiller, Karen Douglas; and Carla Peterman.

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