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Utilities Urge Consumers to 'Save More'

by Sara Stroud
Sustainable Industries, April 13, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pacific Gas and Electric (NYSE:PCG) and Sacramento Municipal Utility District in April announced a new program to promote energy efficiency in household electronics. The Business and Consumer Electronics Program plans to offer marketing support for electronics manufacturers and retailers by labeling devices such as televisions, computers and monitors.

In a co-branding effort with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program, appliances meeting Energy Star standards will also be marked with a PG&E "Save" sticker. Electronics that exceed Energy Star specifications by 15 percent will be marked with a "Save More" tag. Partner retailers, including Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Sears (Nasdaq:SHLD) will receive support to train staff to promote the more efficient items, according to the utilities. Computer manufacturer Lenovo also signed on to the program.

The program is an expansion of existing efficiency labeling. First, it offers higher-level specifications than Energy Star, and second it focuses on electronics, rather than large household appliances, which has not been widely done before, says Brad Whitcomb, PG&E's vice president of marketing

The labeling system will eliminate confusion among consumers about which electronics are the most energy efficient, and "bolster the business case for retailers to carry such items," says Stephanie Fleming of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.

The program's cost will depend on how widely it is adopted, Whitcomb says, but he estimates that it will cost $10 to $20 for each electronic unit.

In California, consumer electronics account for almost 20 percent of residential energy use. The utilities estimate that the program could save their customers up to 380 million kilowatt-hours through 2011. For now, the program is only being rolled out in the utilities' coverage areas, but may eventually expand statewide and nationally, according to PG&E.

Related Pages: report by Steve Weiss, NW Energy Coalition

Sara Stroud
Utilities Urge Consumers to 'Save More'
Sustainable Industries, April 13, 2009

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