For Immediate Release - August 09, 2013

U.S. Department of Energy to Update Overdue Energy Efficiency Standards for Electrical Equipment

Consumers and Businesses Could Save $3.8 Billion in Energy Costs by 2035

BOSTON – After failing to meet deadlines to adopt stronger federal energy efficiency standards for certain commercial appliances and equipment that use large amounts of electricity, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to commit to a schedule that will set them in place by next year, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

The AG’s Office obtained the agreement as part of an 11-member coalition including a total of nine attorneys general, the California Energy Commission and the City of New York. The agreement commits the federal agency to a timetable for updating the national standards for four common products – walk-in coolers and freezers, metal halide lamps, commercial refrigeration equipment, and electric motors – as mandated by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).

The DOE agreed to propose rulemakings for the first three products this month and for electric motors by November. The DOE also committed to finalizing all four new rules by May 2014. 

“Once finalized, these stronger standards will result in significant savings for consumers and will benefit the environment greatly,” AG Coakley said. “We are pleased that the DOE is committed to issuing these new rules promptly to save money and avoid further pollution.”

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimates that the stricter standards could reduce electric consumption by an estimated 44 terawatt-hours per year by 2035, an amount equivalent to the energy used by about 3.8 million homes annually.

Consumers and businesses nationwide could also save an estimated $156 million per month and $3.8 billion annually in energy costs by 2035. The cumulative energy savings by 2035 would be enough to supply all of the energy needs in the United States for three weeks.

The new standards would slash emission of air pollution, reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 26 million metric tons annually, equaling the output of six-coal fired power plants. Nitrogen oxides would be reduced by 19,400 metric tons and sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, would be cut by 37,500 metric tons.

In the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, Congress directed the DOE to periodically review and strengthen efficiency standards for a wide range of products under explicit deadlines. The deadline for walk-in coolers and freezers as well as metal halide lamps was 18 months ago. The deadline for commercial refrigerators and electric pumps ended seven months ago.

The coalition reserves the right to take legal action under EPCA to force DOE to update the standards if they fail to meet any of the newly-established deadlines.

Assistant Attorney General Fred Augenstern of Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division handled this case for the Attorney General's Office. Members of the coalition include the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, along with the California Energy Commission, and the Corporation Counsel of New York City. 

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