In honor of election day (hope you’ve voted), here’s a second post of the day with our recent interview with Spreck Rosekrans discussing the Hetch Hetchy water system and San Francisco’s Measure F.

In Episode 83 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on November 3, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Spreck Rosekrans, director of policy for Restore Hetch Hetchy, a non-profit organization that seeks to transform the Hetch Hetchy from a reservoir that imports water to San Francisco back to its natural state as a valley in Yosemite.Hetch Hetchy

Rosekrans has been an environmental advocate for 25 years.  Prior to joining Restore Hetch Hetchy, he was asked by the Sierra Club to examine whether Hetch Hetchy can be restored.

SFPUC and Hetch Hetchy system schematic

Originally a valley, akin to but smaller than the Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy became a reservoir that supplied water to San Francisco after the City’s early 20th century earthquake and fire.  Soon after, legislation was passed to forbid future reservoirs from being built in national parks. In fact, that actually launched the environmental movement, according to Rosekrans, who notes that’s also when the Sierra Club developed from simply an outing club into an environmental-political organization.

Hetch Hetchy Valley Restored

Hetch Hetchy Valley Restored, artist’s rendering

According to Rosekrans, through improved water management, which might include water recycling and capturing rainwater, San Francisco could eliminate its reliance on Hetch Hetchy water.  But some, (including California Senator Dianne Feinstein) who are concerned about San Francisco’s sources of water and hydropower, are opposed to the restoration. Many of those opponents believe the Hetch Hetchy is San Francisco’s birthright, according to Rosekrans.  Others see it as an iconic dam with symbolic value, making restoration seem radical.  For their part, legislators don’t want to address the issue.  As a result, Restore Hetch Hetchy is taking the issue to the people of San Francisco through Measure F, which seeks to create a public plan that would modernize San Francisco’s water system, including water recycling and groundwater banking (in which cities exchange water with agricultural districts). Measure F would also establish a task force, which would come back to voters in 2016 with specific programs and facilities that would be an alternative to Hetch Hetchy.

While the restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley would be years in the making, Measure F is a critical component to the restoration effort.  Do you support Measure F?
Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Rosekrans: Episode 83 of The Wendel Forum (27:52 mins; mp3)

Restore Hetch Hetchy’s Website: http://www.hetchhetchy.org

Measure F — Restore Hetch Hetchy’s Ballot Initiative: http://www.hetchhetchy.org/images/Reports/Ballot_Initiative.pdf

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

[The following post is written by Wendel Rosen Green Business Practice Group Partner Donald S. Simon in response to a recent article addressing legislation that allows for the formation of benefit corporations.  Regular readers of The Wendel Forum will remember we have covered Benefit Corporation in prior episodes.]

A REAL WORLD RESPONSE TO A PROFESSORIAL CRITIQUE

I just read the article entitled “The Truth about Ben and Jerry’s” in this Fall’s edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR).  This article challenges the reasons Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield have given for approving the company’s sale to Unilever.  It also argues that recent legislation creating benefit corporations is unnecessary because traditional corporate law allows social entrepreneurs to accomplish their goals equally well.  The article advances erroneous, incomplete and misleading analysis of applicable law and evidences a lack of appreciation for how business and law interact in the real world, outside the halls of academia where the authors reside. 

Green Business attorney Donald Simon

Wendel Rosen’s Donald Simon helped draft and promote new Benefit Corporation legislation (AB 361)

I was not involved in the Ben & Jerry’s transaction; however, I was co-chair of the California Benefit Corporation Legal Working Group that authored the California benefit corporation law (AB 361) I provide this brief response to rebut some of the key inaccuracies in the SSIR article.

The article presents a misleading discussion of corporate law.  Corporate law differs from state to state.  The article claims that most states do not require corporate directors to maximize shareholder value (i.e., profits) and instead allow directors to consider the interests of other stakeholders impacted by the company’s actions, such as employees, community and environment.  This is a gross and misleading overstatement.  In fact, directors are permitted to consider broader stakeholder interests only in states that have adopted so-called “constituency statutes.”  Such statutes have been adopted in less than two-thirds of U.S. states.  And among those that have adopted constituency statutes, each state defines a different list of stakeholders whose interests the directors may consider.  For example, some states allow directors to consider the company’s impact on the environment, while most do not.  In states that do NOT have constituency statutes (including California), directors lack statutory authority to consider stakeholders interests and must act exclusively based on the interests of the corporation and its shareholders.

What about Delaware?  The most surprising omission in this article (among many) is the authors’ failure to mention Delaware.  Writing an article on American corporate law without discussing Delaware is like writing a history of the space program without mentioning the Apollo moon landings.  Because companies can incorporate under the laws of any state they wish (regardless of where they’re physically located), Delaware sought to dominate the market by providing companies what they seek most – legal certainty.  Delaware has achieved this by creating the largest body of corporate law and a specialized (Chancery) court system dedicated exclusively to such matters.  As a result, more companies are incorporated in Delaware than any other state.  When a court in any other state considers issues of corporate law that have not already been definitively answered by higher appellate courts in their state, they typically look to Delaware court decisions for guidance. 

Delaware is critical to this discussion because in a high-profile case from 2010, where eBay sued the founders of Craigslist (eBay vs. Newmark), the Delaware Chancery court reaffirmed the shareholder primacy rule made famous in Dodge v. Ford, ruling that “[p]romoting, protecting, or pursuing non- stockholder considerations must lead at some point to value for stockholders.”  The following excerpt from the court’s decision is instructive:

“[Craigslist founders, Newmark and Buckmaster] did prove that they personally believe craigslist should not be about the business of stockholder wealth maximization, now or in the future.  As an abstract matter, there is nothing inappropriate about an organization seeking to aid local, national, and global communities by providing a website for online classifieds that is largely devoid of monetized elements.  Indeed, I personally appreciate and admire [Newmark's and Buckmaster's] desire to be of service to communities.  The corporate form in which craigslist operates, however, is not an appropriate vehicle for purely philanthropic ends, at least not when there are other stockholders interested in realizing a return on their investment. … Having chosen a for-profit corporate form, the craigslist directors are bound by the fiduciary duties and standards that accompany that form.  Those standards include acting to promote the value of the corporation for the benefit of its stockholders.  Thus, I cannot accept as valid … a corporate policy that specifically, clearly, and admittedly seeks not to maximize the economic value of a for-profit Delaware corporation for the benefit of its stockholders….”

The authors’ failure to discuss Delaware law and the Craigslist case, while mentioning an obscure 1953 case from New Jersey, is puzzling.  Surely they were aware of these well-known legal precedents that refute the central theme of their article.

The Article misunderstands the purpose and need for new corporate forms.  The article correctly notes that companies can incorporate in one state while locating and doing business in another.  Because of this, the authors argue that there is no need for other states to adopt benefit corporation legislation because a handful of states already have.  The authors are apparently unaware that states like California impose their key corporate laws (including shareholder primacy) on all companies doing business in their state, regardless of where they are incorporated.  See Cal. Corporations Code section 2115(b).  This critical fact illustrates the danger of making simplistic generalities about a legal system that differs in each of the 50 states.

A quick primer of how law works in the real world.  Although neither of the article’s authors were involved in the Ben & Jerry’s deal and apparently never spoke to anyone who was, they claim to know more about the thinking, motivations and legal concerns than the principals and lawyers who lived it.  Ben & Jerry said they accepted Unilever’s higher offer over lower ones because their lawyers (correctly) advised them that doing so could expose them to personal liability if a shareholder chose to sue them for not maximizing their profits by taking Unilever’s higher offer. 

The authors apparently read the company’s corporate documents, from which they devised legal arguments they believe would have enabled Ben, Jerry and their board of directors to prevail in such a lawsuit.  While their analysis makes for an excellent law school essay question, it is divorced from the reality that governs such transactions. 

In the real world, cases aren’t decided by attorneys or professors declaring what they believe the law should be.  They are decided by lawsuits, trials and lengthy appeals that can take five or more years to reach a final conclusion.  How many businesses do you know that can wait in limbo that long, especially on critical decisions like who will own the company?  Ben & Jerry’s lawyers also (correctly) advised them that they could be held personally liable for losses claimed by their disgruntled shareholders.  The authors dismiss this fact by saying that Ben & Jerry could have sued the company to recover any personal losses based on indemnity provisions in the corporate documents.  I’m sure Ben & Jerry’s lawyers discussed this, and equally sure it provided Ben & Jerry little comfort.  After spending years in litigation losing one case and paying the verdict out of their own pocket, I suspect nothing would sound less appealing than spending six or seven figures litigating a new case pursing their indemnity claim against the company they no longer own or control.  The delay and costs attendant to litigation, coupled with the inability of companies to remain in limbo while awaiting a final decision, is the central reason why there are so few reported cases addressing these issues. 

The article ignores the central advantage that the Benefit Corporation provides.  The article conveys the authors’ opinion that social enterprise does not require benefit corporations or any of the other new forms provided by recent legislation, while ignoring the benefit they provide.  That benefit is legal certainty, which as noted above, is a critical commodity.  Social entrepreneurs operating as a traditional corporation are like guinea pigs waiting to be called for an experiment.  So long as all the shareholders remain mission-aligned, the experiment will be a success.  But shareholders and their attitudes often change over time, and in traditional corporations, the result is often a dilution of the company’s original social or environmental values.  If the values-driven shareholders control the company, then they can do as they wish and roll the dice to see if they’re sued.  And if they do, they’ll experience the thrill of litigation, with expensive legal fees, years of watching the slow grind of our legal system and the excitement that comes with never knowing how it’ll end until the appeals have been exhausted or a settlement is reached.  For the gambler, this sounds as fun as betting the company payroll on a roulette wheel in Vegas.

The benefit corporation was created for the more temperate social entrepreneurs who prefer not to be a legal guinea pig.  The benefit corporation was created for them so that they don’t have to worry about their continued ability to operate their business in a socially responsible manner.  No questions, no uncertainty, just clarity and peace of mind so that they can focus their attention on their business instead of threats to their vision of what that business should be.

Donald Simon
Partner, Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP
Oakland, California
September 17, 2012

In Episode 68 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 30, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Councilmember Damon Connolly of San Rafael and Councilmember Tom Butt of Richmond.

 

Damon City Hall Photo

San Rafael City Councilmember Damon Connolly serves as Chairman of the Board for the Marin Energy Authority

Connolly is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Marin Energy Authority (MEA). The MEA is the not-for-profit public agency formed by the County of Marin and several Marin cities and towns in 2008.  MEA administers the Marin Clean Energy program.

MEA is the first operational example of a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program in the state of California.  In California, Community Choice Aggregation was developed through legislation (AB 117) in 2002 as a response to the rolling blackouts of several years ago (remember Enron?).  It’s a system that allows cities and counties to aggregate the buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction in order to secure alternative energy supply contracts.

MEA’s program is a hybrid to traditional utility models, which might include a municipal utility or privately-owned utility (such as PG&E in Northern California).  In MEA’s model, the public agency purchases or produces the energy, but a third-party energy company handles distribution and maintenance of the energy transmission infrastructure.

In 2002, California addressed base renewable energy goals through SB 1078, which set the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS).  These goals were expanded in 2011 under SB 2.  California, under the RPS program, requires investor-owned utilities, electric service providers and CCAs to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resource to 33% of total procurement by 2020.

MEA’s plan is considerably more ambitious than the state requirement.  They plan to get to 100% renewable procurement in the next 10 years. Today they are at 28% (8% more than the current RPS requirement).  The program is getting a tremendous response from new renewable energy suppliers, and MEA has initiated an “Open Season” procurement process to manage proposals.  

So, how does it work?

When a community joins, all of the residents are included in the CCA program.  If they do not want to participate in it, however, they are free to opt out.  If they choose to participate, the MEA offers two plan levels – a “Light Green” and a “Dark Green” option.  The first delivers energy to customers with 50% coming from renewable energy sources.  The latter offers energy to customers that is 100% sourced from renewable energy.  The dark green plan costs the average customer $5-10 more per month and currently includes 8% of their customer base.

The City of Richmond is one of the latest cities to join the MEA.  So how did a city in Contra Costa County get involved in a program from Marin?  City Councilmember Tom Butt explains that Richmond’s General Plan 2030 includes multiple environmental goals, including offering a CCA toRichmond residents and businesses. When analyzing how best to go about implementing a CCA, the City decided it just didn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel, according to Butt.  MEA, as a clear leader in the space, was a logical partner.  As Richmond comes online, the MEA expects to add about 30,000 new customers – a significant influx of new customers, which will give MEA even more purchasing power with energy producers going forward.

Would you pay $10 more on your energy bill each month to know that the energy was made up of 100% renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass? 

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Councilmembers Connolly and Butt: Episode 68 of The Wendel Forum (27:18 mins; mp3)

Marin Energy Authority: http://www.marinenergyauthority.org/

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 65 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 2, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros, a consulting firm focused on electric vehicle service equipment systems. The company advises clients – CFOs, directors of sustainability, CEOs, facilities managers and electricians – regarding vendors, installation and other issues related to EV charging systems.

John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros

John Kalb, founder of EV Charging Pros

The Obama Administration wants one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Kalb believes one way to achieve the goal is for large fleets – Zipcar, Avis and similar companies that purchase hundreds of cars at one time – to switch to electric vehicles.

At the personal consumer level, though, the industry is still in the early adopters phase, primarily because most people have not yet had an electric driving experience. Kalb wants consumers to know that “the fun factor is high.” Bill adds that it’s like driving “a super-charged golf cart.” Plus, without oil, water or tailpipe emissions, EVs require little maintenance making the cost of ownership low.

Kalb notes that pre-purchase decisions usually center on range anxiety, post-purchase concerns usually focus on charging because consumers don’t see options other than their own houses. But Kalb is working to increase public and workplace charging opportunities.

Still, whether the Obama Administration’s goal is met depends not only on the consumer adoption rate but also infrastructure development. Bill and Kalb discuss recent legislation related to EV charging. California’s SB 209, for example, mandates that homeowners associations in multi-family environments can’t prevent individual homeowners from installing a charging station. Network chargers allow the capital cost to be borne solely by the EV owner.

Similarly, AB 631 makes it easier for shopping center owners, business owners and employers to own and operate charging stations. While the cost of charging stations is $6,500 to $10,000, the Public Utility Commission won’t regulate these alternative fuel stations. Usually, EV owners are happy to pay for that amenity and would more frequently patronize businesses with charging stations.

AB 2502, which is under consideration, would permit EV manufacturers to offer consumer financing of the cost (about $2,200) of residential chargers. Needless to say, the California legislature is putting policy in place to foster necessary infrastructure development.

Wendel Forum listeners, we’d like to hear from you: If more charging options were available, would you purchase an EV?

  

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with John Kalb: Episode 65 of The Wendel Forum  (27:45 mins; mp3)

EV Charging Pros website: http://www.evchargingpros.com/

Legislation:

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 54 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 17, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Dick Lyons continues his conversations with attendees of Natural Products Expo West 2012 in Anaheim.  The show sees nearly 60,000 attendees and more than 2,000 exhibitors showcasing their products, including a wide range of natural living products, specialty foods, natural ingredients, supplements, and health and beauty aids.  In addition there are numerous seminars and presentation, as well as informal discussions on topics from fair trade and supply chain issues to organic labeling and greenwashing. 

Photo of Arran Stephens, President & Founder of Nature's Path

Arran Stephens, President & Founder of Nature's Path, talks GMOs

In this episode, Dick talks with Arran Stephens, President and Founder of Nature’s Path, an organic cereal manufacturer in North America. The two discuss Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, and their impact on our ecosystem and food supplies. In California, there is currently a signature campaign to put a proposition on the ballot that, if passed, would require product labeling so consumers will know whether their food has been made with genetically modified organisms. 

 

What’s a GMO?

To genetically modify plants, bacterial DNA is spliced into the DNA of the plant.  The bacterial DNA then may make the plant produce its own bacterial pesticide, thereby reducing the need for chemical pesticides (at least in theory), or make it more resistant to herbicide.  The modified plant becomes a transgenic organism because it has had the genes of another organism spliced into its genome.

Whether humans consume GMOs directly by eating transgenic plants or indirectly through animals that have been fed GMO feed, GMOs are common in our supermarkets.  In fact, Arran claims that about 85% of all foods consumed from our supermarkets contain GMO ingredients. There is little known about whether there may be long term consequences.

Since labeling is not currently required in the U.S. or Canada, it’s hard for consumers to know whether their food contains GMOs. Around 50 other countries in the world currently require labeling, from Japan to Germany and Brazil to Saudi Arabia.

 

How can you avoid GMOs?

U.S. consumers can avoid eating transgenic food by choosing to eat certified organic food. If a food wears the USDA Organic Seal, the product can be traced back to the source. However, even that doesn’t account for “drift” in our agricultural system.  A field of corn or soy that is grown organically may still get some amount of background or trace contamination from naturally occurring cross-pollination with neighboring fields that have been planted with GMO plants. 

Nature’s Path and many other concerned food manufacturers participate in a voluntary program, the Non-GMO Project, which was started in 2005. It’s a non-profit organization that puts products through lab testing to determine if there are trace amounts of GMOs. The testing is expensive, but many food producers, especially those who operate on a high-volume scale, find that it is worth the expense.

For Arran and others in the non-GMO movement, the first big battle is to require labeling that will allow consumers to freely choose.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Arran Stephens:  Episode 54 of The Wendel Forum (27:51 mins; mp3)

Nature’s Path website: www.naturespath.com

Non-GMO Project website: www.nongmoproject.org

Natural Products Expo West 2012 website: http://www.expowest.com/ew12/public/enter.aspx

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’ online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

Photo of Danae Ringelmann

Danae Ringelmann of Indiegogo visits The Wendel Forum to discuss crowdfunding.

JOBS Act Passes Senate Vote

On March 22, 2012, the United States Senate passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the “JOBS Act”) by a 73-26 vote. (The House of Representatives passed a separate version of the bill on March 8, 2012.) The JOBS Act includes a number of items intended to make it easier for small businesses to gain access to capital. In passing its version of the legislation, the Senate made some amendments to the JOBS Act that the House had previously passed, so it will be going back to the House for a vote on the amended bill shortly.

Senate changes to the crowdfunding legislation include:

  • Companies that use crowdfunding must provide financial statements to investors 
  • Companies seeing between $100,000 and $500,000 need to get independent accountants to review statements 
  • Companies seeking more than $500,000 in capital must have audited financial statements
  • Crowdfunding campaigns will be limited to $1 million for a single company

This should be welcome news to entrepreneurs, start ups, and small businesses. The JOBS Act, while a positive step forward to create opportunities for access to capital, is not the only avenue that entrepreneurs and fledgling companies can pursue, though.

Danae Ringelmann of Crowdfunding Website Indiegogo Visits The Wendel Forum:

In Episode 52 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 3, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo chats with Danae Ringelmann, co-founder and chief operating officer of Indiegogo.

According to the company’s website:

Indiegogo is a crowdfunding platform where people who want to raise money can create fundraising campaigns to tell their story and get the word out. Indiegogo is also a place to discover what people all over the world are passionate about and how to get involved.

This fundraising platform is used by small start up businesses, artists and performers, and nonprofit causes from more than 200 countries.

With a noble goal of democratizing capital and leveling the funding playing field, the company has launched more than 70,000 campaigns since getting going in 2008. Danae explains the process of crowdfunding and some of the unique feature that Indiegogo brings to the table.

She also shares some stories around successful campaigns and several lessons the company has learned along the way, including the fact that “people fund people,” not just ideas. Since it’s so important to provide a face for your cause, they have built a number of tools to guide you into a successful campaign. Their easy online wizards help you set up your account, and they provide ideas and tools to help you promote your cause.

What would motivate people to donate to a campaign on a site like Indiegogo? Danae says there are four primary reasons – to support a specific cause, to take advantage of the perks offered related to a campaign, to participate in something larger than oneself or to gain a cash return on investment (profit participation). NOTE: Until the JOBS Act legislation is sorted out, that last one is currently illegal for these models, so Indiegogo currently does not support that motivation. They do, however, support the first three.

The appeal of Indiegogo is quite easy to understand: the beauty of the platform is that people can actively engage in something they care about without quitting their day job. Listen in – we think you’ll agree!

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Danae Ringelmann: Episode 52 of The Wendel Forum (27:36 mins; mp3)

Indiegogo website: www.indiegogo.com

Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) Legislative Text: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c112:4:./temp/~c112vr3i3D::

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 51 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on February 25, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Dick Lyons welcomes Ted Ko, Associate Executive Director of the Clean Coalition, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to implement policies and programs that “transition the world to cost-effective clean energy now while delivering unparalleled economic benefits.” Ted is a co-founder of the group and currently oversees policy development and strategy for both regulatory and legislative efforts. 

Photo of Ted Ko

Ted Ko, Associate Executive Director of the Clean Coalition

Ted explains how the group goes about fixing problems and issues facing those looking to build small to medium scale clean local energy projects such as wind farms, biofuels, solar, fuel cells, etc.  Their mission is to help make it faster and easier for these projects to come to fruition.

Dick and Ted discuss energy distribution issues and the Coalition’s position on how to best get the most cost-effective energy to market.  They touch on the challenges of the current energy distribution system, with its long, inefficient transmission lines and the environmental, permitting and construction issues associated with large scale power plant production.  In contrast, Coalition projects focus on small, local projects that benefit local economies. While many projects employ solar PV technology, the program is designed to be source agnostic.

Small projects are generally done on a custom basis, so transaction costs are often an impediment to a project’s success.  By trying to standardize and simplify the contracts across utilities, cities and jurisdictions, the Coalition is focused on simplifying the communication about these types of projects, as well as the process to get them up and running.  Clearly, as smart grid and energy storage technologies come into play, the landscape for energy distribution will change.  The Coalition believes that it’s important for policymakers and lawmakers to get serious about these issues.
In the meantime, the Coalition will continue to push for clean local energy.

For those local and municipal entities interested in launching their own projects, the Clean Coalition has a Local Clean Program Guide that is a free how-to manual available for download on their website (link).  

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Ted Ko:  Episode 51 of The Wendel Forum (27:53 mins; mp3)

Clean Coalition website:  http://www.clean-coalition.org

Free Guide download: http://www.clean-coalition.org/local_clean_program_guide/

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’ online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

[Note: Thanks to Wendel Rosen attorney Greg Jung for this update and guest post.]

Greg Jung, attorney at Wendel Rosen

Greg Jung, attorney at Wendel Rosen

On January 12, the California Energy Commission approved the nation’s first efficiency standards that apply to “vampire” chargers — electrical battery charging systems that consume electricity even when they are not connected to the device being charged or turned off.  The new rules would take effect on Feb. 1, 2013, for chargers used with consumer goods, such as phones and power tools; on Jan. 1, 2014, for industrial chargers, such as forklifts; and on Jan. 1, 2017, for commercial equipment chargers, including walkie-talkies for emergency personnel and portable bar-code scanners.

See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-energy-vampires-20120113,0,6391528.story

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