HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell Monday announced that the U.S. Department of Energy will set new standards to sharply increase the energy efficiency of 20 common domestic appliances, settling a lawsuit that Pennsylvania, a coalition of states, and several consumer and environmental groups filed against the federal department last year.
“Energy policies that do not emphasize conservation and efficiency are incomplete,” Rendell said. “Pennsylvania is doing its part to encourage alternative energy development and reduce our dependence on foreign fuels. We are pleased the Department of Energy is stepping up to do the same. This is a tremendous victory for the environment, our economy and consumers.”
According to the Department of Energy’s own estimates, the efficiency standards covered by this agreement will reduce energy use by as much as 35 quadrillion British thermal units over a 30-year period. By comparison, all U.S. households combined consumed 21 quadrillion BTUs of energy in 2004.
The standards also have the potential to reduce greenhouse gases. Annual carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by as much as 103 million metric tons a year, as well. This is the equivalent of eliminating emissions from more than 18 million cars and light trucks from America’s roads.
“Enhanced efficiency is an essential component of America’s energy future,” Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said. “Improved standards for appliances that use large amounts of electricity, natural gas and oil mean immediate environmental improvements and additional cost savings for consumers — not to mention greater security at home.”
In the 1980s, the U.S. Congress directed the Department of Energy to periodically update the efficiency standards for a wide range of consumer products, such as furnaces, water heaters, clothes washers, home ranges and ovens, air conditioners and dishwashers. The department consistently failed in this regard, and in some cases is as much as 14 years late in developing new standards for some products. DOE has not adopted any appliance efficiency standards since January 2001.
In September 2005, Pennsylvania joined a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court’s Southern District of New York in an effort to compel the Department of Energy to catch up. The lawsuit sought a binding schedule for the overdue standards.
States joining the suit include California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. Other parties include the California Energy Commission, New York City, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants and the Texas Ratepayers Organization to Save Energy.
Energy efficiency standards play an important role in ensuring affordable, reliable energy. Energy efficient appliances reduce air pollution, global warming and other environmental problems associated with the generation of electricity while saving money for residential and commercial consumers.
The agreement covers the following products, by category and standard deadline:
· Room air conditioners — June 2011
· Central air conditioners and heat pumps — June 2011
· Water heaters — March 2010
· Pool heaters — March 2010
· Direct heating equipment — March 2010
· Furnaces and boilers — September 2007
· Dishwashers — March 2009
· Clothes dryers — June 2011
· Fluorescent lamp ballasts — June 2011
· Ranges and ovens — March 2009
· Additional lamps — June 2009
· Incandescent reflector lamps — June 2009
· Fluorescent lamps — June 2009
· Packaged air conditioners and heat pumps — September 2008
· Packaged boilers — February 2007
· Instantaneous water heaters — February 2007
· Medium-sized motors — June 2011
· High intensity discharge lamps — June 2010
· Electric distribution transformers — September 2007
· Small motors — February 2010