News from America: new federal rule will make it difficult to update energy efficiency standards

A news item from Smart Energy International website explains the changes made by the Department of Energy to add more complexity to procedures to update energy efficiency standards. This will reverse benefits and slow down, if not stop, any new developments.

New US policy to make it hard to update efficiency standards

A new policy that has been enacted by the US Department of Energy (DoE) is expected to reverse benefits achieved owing to the adoption of previous and current climate-friendly energy efficiency regulations.

The rule will make it hard to update energy efficiency standards as part of efforts to address climate change, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The DOE has changed the Process Rule by adding new and lengthy steps to the procedure used in updating existing or developing new energy efficiency standards.

Elements added to the Process Rule, making it harmful to the US environment, include:

  • A minimum savings threshold that will make new standards for many products illegal, even if the standards have zero cost.
  • Increased deference to industry developed test procedures, which may emphasise reducing manufacturer costs rather than efficiency ratings that give consumers accurate information.
  • Increased deference to standards established by ASHRAE for commercial products, a professional society in which manufacturers have a strong voice, rather than those developed by DOE.
  • A pre-rulemaking process that can lead to a decision to not conduct a rulemaking
  • The requirement that DOE re-start the standards rulemaking process whenever more products are included within the scope of regulation, once again forcing a choice between including products that logically should be part of a rule, or more delay.
  • A mandate that makes the process rule legally binding in all instances, which will create endless litigation further tying up future standards.

The previous Process Rule, which was climate-friendly, would help in reducing carbon emissions and saved save the average US household $500 each year.

The Trump administration claims the revealed Process Rule will save consumers about $2 trillion by 2030.

Steven Nadel, executive director at ACEEE, said: “These attacks defy the common-sense, bipartisan support that energy efficiency has long enjoyed.

“They will cost consumers and businesses money, create market uncertainty for businesses due to likely legal challenges, add to harmful pollution, and undermine efforts to address the climate crisis.”

Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), added: “The Department of Energy designed its new process rule to make it slower and harder to establish energy-saving efficiency standards.  Since this administration has yet to complete any new standard of its own, this rule appears aimed at preventing future administrations from using this time-tested policy for saving energy.

“DOE claims they ‘heard the American people’s concerns,’ yet they ignored the comments of nearly 45,000 citizens who took the time to object to DOE proposed rule and the input of a range of energy efficiency supporters. This rule benefits regulated manufacturers and hurts everyday consumers and the environment.”

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