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By Lane Burt on Mar 8, 2010 with no responses

DOE Cracks Down on TV, Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards

The Department of Energy has made a couple of unprecedented moves on efficiency in the last few months that have gone unnoticed by all but the most die-hard efficiency advocates.

First, as my colleague Noah Long explained, DOE has begun to actually enforce mandatory minimum appliance standards!  Crazy, right? First they announced about $3 million in fines on shower head manufacturers for failure to submit certification reports.  These are the first ever fines levied under the federal standards program, and further evidence of the new attitude about enforcement at DOE.  They then followed up by fining an air conditioner manufacturer $1.2 million for failing to certify.  I am guessing these and other manufacturers will pay a bit more attention to compliance and certification from now on.

Second, DOE issued its annual report to Congress recently, and the big news is that DOE has officially put development of national TV energy efficiency standards on its schedule.  We had been expecting this development, since DOE announced last fall that it would begin a TV proceeding “soon” in its notice repealing the outdated federal test method.

Standards for TV sets are long overdue. Congress gave DOE authority to consider TV standards in 1989, but this is the first time they’ve been considered federally.  Of course, it’s doubtful the feds would even be looking at TV standards absent the California Energy Commission (CEC) standards enacted last year and heroic efforts to develop and support those standards by the Commissioners and CEC staff through support led by NRDC’s Noah Horowitz, Pacific Gas & Electric and the rest of the CA investor owned utilities.

The federal schedule calls for completion of the federal rulemaking in June 2013.  Assuming that Consumer Electronics Association is not successful at derailing the federal process — you can bet they will try — that means federal standards would take effect in May 2016, at the earliest.  In the 3.5 years between the state standards implementation date and the earliest potential federal implementation date, about 20 million TV sets will be sold that will last 7 to 10 years.  Even if the feds do all we would want, there is still much value in staying the course in the states.

I think this DOE means business, don’t you?