Obama officials push efficiency rules for smartphones, laptops – The Hill


The Obama administration is considering new rules that would require the batteries of smartphones and laptops to last longer when charged.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is pushing the stronger efficiency standards for rechargeable batteries used in smartphones, laptops, tablets, MP3 players and digital cameras. The proposed regulations, which are coming soon, would cut rechargeable battery energy use by 11 percent, according to DOE, while saving consumers as much as $1.2 billion.

The rules would also offer significant environmental benefits, according to the administration, but it would also cost industry $529 million to comply.

“This standard covers everything that has a rechargeable battery — everything from cell phones, to tablets, to cordless power tools to ride-on toy cars,” said Andrew deLaski, spokesman for the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.

The DOE estimates about 95 percent of the industry already comply with the standards, but the agency is targeting the small portion of rechargeable batteries that don’t.

The department is expected to strengthen its previous 2012 proposal, which energy advocates say would have weakened compliance.

At the time, California had already issued stronger standards that many states were already following. But the DOE’s rules would have provided an incentive for many states to follow the lesser standard, which could have increased consumer energy bills by $300 million each year, according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. 

The DOE is now revising the proposal to match California’s standards, which advocates are calling a victory. The rules are expected to hit the Federal Register in the coming weeks.

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