This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 28, 2007

DOE Seeks a Fast Track to New Energy Efficiency Standards

DOE has requested congressional authorization to greatly speed up its process for setting energy efficiency standards, with the goal of bringing more efficient products to market sooner. On February 26th, the agency sent proposed legislation to Congress that would streamline the process for implementing energy efficiency standards for certain products when a clear consensus for a standard exists. The legislation could apply to more than 30 products, including home appliances, electrical equipment for the home, home plumbing equipment, commercial electrical equipment, and heating and cooling equipment for both homes and commercial buildings.

The new process would apply only when representatives of relevant interests—including manufacturers, efficiency advocates, and state officials—negotiate on their own initiative and propose an energy conservation standard for a product for which DOE had issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking. If DOE then determines that the proposed standard would meet the substantive requirements of the law for that product, the agency could publish a notice of direct final rulemaking that incorporates the recommended standard. If no objection to the standard then arises, the direct final rule would become effective 120 days after the notice was published. See the DOE press release and the Building Technologies Program's Appliances and Commercial Equipment Standards Web site.

A fine example of interest groups proposing an energy conservation standard to DOE happened on February 20th, when the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the American Public Power Association joined with the Natural Resources Defense Council and several energy efficiency groups to propose higher efficiency standards for electric transformers, the metal boxes or cylinders found on utility poles across the country. According to EEI, more efficient transformers could save 26 billion kilowatt-hours per year, the amount used by roughly 2.3 million households. See the EEI press release (PDF 59 KB). Download Adobe Reader.