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Canada: STB energy efficiency agreement

January 18, 2017

Canadian pay-TV service providers (specifically, cable, direct-to-home satellite and IPTV providers) along with set-top box manufacturers have finalised a voluntary agreement, committing themselves to improving the energy efficiency of set-top boxes from coast-to-coast-to-coast. With this voluntary agreement, reached in consultation with federal and provincial governments, utilities and supporting organisations, it is expected that total annual energy consumption in Canada will be reduced and annual carbon dioxide emissions will be cut by over 100,000 tonnes.  This is equivalent to the emissions of over 44,000 sub-compact new vehicles driving 15,000 km/yr.

At least 90 per cent of all new set-top boxes purchased beginning in 2017 are expected to meet the energy efficiency standards set out in the voluntary agreement, benefitting a large number of Canadian consumers. The voluntary agreement, along with complementary measures such as the ENERGY STAR programme, is expected to reduce the total annual energy consumption of Canadian set-top boxes from 3.4 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2016 to 2.7 TWh in 2021. The energy expected to be saved is equivalent to the consumption of 60,000 homes. The voluntary agreement will help track these savings through annual reporting and audit mechanisms.

Voluntary agreement signatories to date include Pay TV service providers Bell, Cogeco Communications, Inc., Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications Inc., and Vidéotron; which collectively serve more than 88 per cent of the pay-TV market. Manufacturers ARRIS and EchoStar Technologies are also signatories.

The new commitments were made through an industry-led collaboration among the signatory Canadian pay-TV service providers and their set-top box manufacturers, with support from Natural Resources Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Energy, the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines, Quebec’s Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, and Manitoba’s Department of Growth, Enterprise and Trade. The agreement was also formulated with the support of provincial utilities BC Hydro, Independent Electricity System Operator, Manitoba Hydro, SaskPower, and Hydro Québec; as well as supportive organisations the Consumer Technology Association, CableLabs and CSA Group.

The voluntary agreement will enable pay-TV service providers and their manufacturers to work together on efficient, high-performing set-top boxes that keep pace with technological improvements and Pay TV service innovations, delivering consumer and environmental benefits.

The typical set-top box is deployed for an average of about six years. However, subscribers who own an older-model set-top box may be able to realise energy savings by replacing them. The agreement has a public reporting mechanism that will help subscribers identify the efficiency level of new set-top boxes that they may wish to consider renting or purchasing.

This voluntary agreement between service providers and manufacturers supports the federal, provincial, and territorial governments’ broader efforts to help Canadians and the environment by increasing the energy efficiency of products and equipment. A steering committee composed of industry representatives will help direct implementation of the voluntary agreement, assist signatories in meeting their targets, and determine next-level energy efficiency improvement for set-top boxes.

“We’re thrilled to see there are now voluntary agreements for set-top box energy efficiency standards on both sides of the borders,” declared Doug Johnson, Vice-President, Policy, Consumer Technology Association. “We believe this agreement helps promote innovation and conservation in this product category and demonstrates our industry’s commitment to provide Canadians with products that reduce energy consumption and save money.”

“CEEVA is an important step for pay-TV service providers and manufacturers in Canada to work collectively toward improving energy efficiency of set-top boxes while keeping the door open for innovation,” stated Debbie Fitzgerald, Principal Architect and Director of the Energy Program, CableLabs. “Over the past three years, CableLabs has helped the US pay-TV industry reduce energy consumption by 9.3 TWh and avoid 6.5 million metric tons of CO2 through a similar voluntary agreement, and we look forward to helping the Canadian pay-TV industry succeed in this effort as well.”

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