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Energy Dep’t Advances Some Efficiency Standards as Delays Remain (1)

Oct. 17, 2018, 3:21 PMUpdated: Oct. 17, 2018, 5:33 PM

The Energy Department is moving—slowly—on home and commercial appliance energy efficiency standards, but indefinite delays remain for more than a dozen other appliance rules.

The department moved efficiency standards for three products—small electric motors, walk-in freezers, and commercial ice makers—from its long-term agenda to pre-rule stages, but 14 appliance standards remain in limbo, according to the fall regulatory agenda issued Oct. 17.

In total, the department has missed 17 statutory deadlines for appliance standards—12 under the Trump administration—that they are required to review and consider whether to update as required under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

Under the Trump administration, the Energy Department has been slow to issue new energy efficiency standards for appliances, let alone start reviewing them to determine whether a standard needs to be updated.

The department’s energy efficiency program oversees more than 60 home appliances by setting minimum performance standards, with the benefits of saving consumers money and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Billions in Energy Savings Missed

By not updating the standards to require manufacturers to make more energy efficient appliances, the department is depriving consumers of billions of dollars in energy savings, efficiency advocates say.

“We estimated that updated standards due between 2017 and the early 2020s have the potential to save consumers $43 billion per year,” Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, told Bloomberg Environment.

“Missing these deadlines shows that this administration is more interested in protecting businesses from any changes in regulations than protecting consumers from products that waste energy and money,” he said.

These delays contrast with the Obama administration, which issued 50 new or updated appliance standards as part of its climate action plan, which President Donald Trump has pledged to undo.

The 14 appliance standards that remain in limbo on the long-term fall agenda listed as “Next Action Undetermined” and date of release as “To Be Determined.”

These include four standards for portable air conditioners, air compressors, commercial packaged boilers, and uninterruptible power supplies that were finalized during the Obama administration but never published in the Federal Register by the Trump administration.

A lawsuit is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit over the delayed final standards filed by environmental groups against the Trump administration.

Industry Optimism

The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, which represents the commercial air conditioning and refrigeration manufacturers, said it remains optimistic that the department will get back on track after it issues a new process rule for issuing new energy appliance standards.

The proposed rule, under review at the Office of Management and Budget, would set the process and procedures by which it engages affected groups in standards rulemaking.

It is expected to be published in the Federal Register in late October or early November, Caroline Davidson-Hood, AHRI’s general counsel, told Bloomberg Environment.

“I think we are more optimistic that once the process rule is published, that this administration is going to move forward on standards,” Davidson-Hood said. “We have been encouraging them to move forward, we’ve been given indications that they are intent on regulating.”

Electricity Rules

The department also said it is planning to issue two proposed rules—one on procedures to export electricity and another to protect critical electric infrastructure.

Thee first rule on exporting electricity to foreign countries, was included in the spring regulatory agenda as well, but no action has been taken. The rule would aim to update the existing policy on the Energy Department approving the export of electricity to foreign countries under the Federal Power Act. A proposed rule is expected in March 2019, according to the agenda.

Separately, the department plans to issue a proposed rule in October that would direct how the department shares information related to cyber and physical threats to critical electric infrastructure, like power plants and transmission lines, with industry and the public.

(Updated with additional reporting throughout.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Kern in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at