For Immediate Release: December 14, 2016
Media Contact: Amber Pasricha Beck - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Adopts Energy Standards for Computers and Monitors
Standards will save consumers millions of dollars

SACRAMENTO - After a multi-year process, the California Energy Commission today adopted energy efficiency standards for computers and monitors with support from industry, environmentalists, consumer groups and utilities. These are the first mandatory standards in the nation that could save consumers an estimated $373 million annually.

"It's common sense that electronic equipment ought to consume a minimal amount of energy when it is not being used," said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency. "Improved efficiency unlocks millions in utility bill savings for consumers and lightens the load on our electricity system. California's standards for computers and monitors are estimated to save enough energy to power about 350,000 average California homes for one year. The state, environmentalists, industry and consumer advocates were able to come together to find common ground and create a win-win policy."

In California, computers and computer monitors use an estimated 5,610 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year, which is up to 3 percent of residential electricity use and 7 percent of commercial use. The standards for computers focus on achieving significant efficiency improvements when computers are on, but not being used, wasting energy and money. The estimated energy savings from the computer and monitor standards is equivalent to the electricity use of all homes in San Francisco and San Luis Obispo counties in 2015, equivalent to nearly 350,000 homes.

The computer standards set a baseline energy use target and rely on a calculation to place a computer into categories, based on the additional technology added to the unit. The targets center on the performance in idle, sleep and off modes and do not set a limit for active mode. This will encourage more efficient power management of computers when they are not being used.

The Energy Commission estimates the standards for desktop computers will add about $10 to the cost of a computer when they first take effect but save consumers more than $40 in electricity bills over five years. These standards become more stringent over time to drive improvements in desktops over multiple design cycles. For desktop computers, the first-tier standards would take effect January 1, 2019, while the second-tier would take effect July 1, 2021.

The majority of notebook computers are already energy efficient and the standards will require improvements to the worst performers. For small-scale servers and workstations, the standards require a more efficient power supply and energy efficient Ethernet.

There are more than 25 million computer monitors installed in homes and businesses in California. The Energy Commission standard establishes an amount of power a monitor or display can consume when on, and when in sleep or off modes. The standard will encourage the use of higher efficiency LED backlights and screen technologies.

For more information please see the frequently asked questions on the proposed computer and monitor standards. For quotations from other stakeholders, please see the Energy Commission blog post.

Other Actions

  • Low-Income Barriers Study - The Energy Commission adopted a study aimed at helping people and businesses in low-income areas invest in, adopt or take advantage of clean energy technologies. The study provides potential solutions and recommendations such as reducing the cost of solar access to low income customers and communities, making energy efficiency and onsite renewable energy tax credits a high priority for low-income affordable housing rehabilitation projects, and setting up regional one-stop shops to help building owners, tenants, and small businesses in low-income and disadvantaged communities install clean energy and water upgrades. The study will be submitted to the state Legislature.
  • Fast Chargers - The Energy Commission approved $11.4 million in grants to install direct current fast chargers and Level 2 chargers along major state freeways and highways to make it easier for electric vehicle drivers to travel within California and to the Arizona, Nevada and Oregon borders. ChargePoint, Inc. was awarded $9.3 million, while EV Connect, Inc. was awarded $2.1 million.
  • Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Grants – The Energy Commission approved more than $3.5 million in research and development grants for projects in support of geothermal energy production. SRI International received more than $870,000, to demonstrate a new cost-effective process for recovering lithium, an important and valuable metal, from geothermal brines, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory received a $1.7 million grant to develop an imaging process to visualize subsurface flows of water and steam in geothermal fields, and a $1 million grant to develop advanced modeling to help ensure to safe and sustainable geothermal production.
  • Existing Building Energy Efficiency Action Plan Update – The Energy Commission approved an update to the 2015 Existing Buildings Energy Efficiency Action Plan to summarize steps taken over the last 15 months to implement the program and provide an overview of future activities within the program. Commissioners discussed awarding $10.2 million in grants in the Energy Commission-sponsored Local Government Challenge for large and small local governments to fund energy savings action plans, performance-based energy projects and innovative pilot projects aimed to reduce energy consumption in existing buildings.

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About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The agency was established by the California Legislature through the Warren-Alquist Act in 1974. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation and preparing for energy emergencies.