Energy Savers: No Deal with Energy Advocates So Cable Goes It Alone

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Captain Planet would be proud. 15 MVPDs across cable, satellite and telco TV have agreed to the voluntary 5-year Set-Top Box Energy Conservation Agreement, which goes into effect Jan 1. NCTA and CEA announced the news Thurs, saying the pact will result in annual residential electricity savings of $1.5bln or more as the commitment is fully realized. The agreement is the outcome of discussions spurred by a Dept of Energy proceeding proposing govt regulation to make cable’s boxes more energy efficient ( Cfax , 8/30). DOE had suspended its regulatory process until the end of Oct (extended from an original deadline of Oct 1) with the expectation that the industry work out a voluntary agreement with energy advocates, such as National Resources Defense Council and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. Negotiations continued through the end of Oct, and then the energy advocates walked away from discussions, an NCTA spokesman said. The affected companies kept talking and Thurs’ agreement is the result. DOE is expected to still examine the area, but cable is hopeful it will see the benefits of the voluntary agreement as a reason not to move forward with a formal rulemaking. The industry is highlighting how the voluntary deal will implement standards 5 years earlier than the 2018 timetable the DOE had proposed. The agreement’s participants are Comcast, DirecTV, DISH, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon, Charter, AT&T, Cablevision, Bright House and CenturyLink, along with manufacturers Cisco, Motorola, EchoStar and Arris. The companies have committed to having at least 90% of all new set-tops bought and deployed after 2012 meet US EPA Energy Star 3.0 efficiency levels. They also have agreed to publishing reports on set-top box performances and appointing an independent admin to collect auditable annual reports of new boxes. For immediate residential electricity savings, "light sleep" capabilities will be downloaded by cable operators to more than 10mlm DVRs that are already in homes. In ’13, telco will offer light sleep capabilities and DBS providers will include an "automatic power down" feature in 90% of boxes purchased and deployed. Energy efficient whole-home DVR solutions will be available as an alternative to multiple in-home DVRs for subscribers of satellite and some telco providers beginning in ’13. And cable plans to field test "deep sleep" functionality in next-gen boxes that will be deployed if successful. "Multichannel video providers and device manufacturers are proud to participate in this unprecedented initiative, and we will continue to pursue even more ways to reduce the overall energy footprint of our services," NCTA pres/CEO Michael Powell said in a statement. The agreement received praise from some lawmakers Thurs, including Sens Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). "I hope the industry will continue to work with stakeholders to develop and deploy more efficient equipment that meets Energy Star 4.0 specifications as soon as they are finalized next year," Feinstein said.

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