Wednesday, March 01, 2000

Energy-efficient appliances (full story)

Settlement forces U.S. to require more energy-efficient appliances

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Stephen Koff
Plain Dealer Bureau Chief
Washington - Household appliances, from air conditioners to dishwashers to ovens, will start to get more energy-efficient over the next five years.
That's not just a boast from the appliance industry. It's a requirement, agreed to in a settlement by the Department of Energy and announced on Monday.
The new energy standards not only will save up to 35 quadrillion BTUs of energy over about 30 years - by comparison, United States consumers used about 21 quadrillion BTUs in 2004 - but also could cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office.
Measured another way, the new standards could save enough energy each year to meet the needs of as many as 12 million households, says the Natural Resources Defense Council.
New York and 14 other states, as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council and two other groups, sued the Department of Energy in 2005 for failing to update efficiency standards on nearly two dozen residential and commercial appliances. Ohio was not among the plaintiffs in the case, filed in U.S. District Court in New York and based on laws passed by Congress since the 1970s oil embargo requiring steady energy-efficiency improvements.
"The underlying principle is that technology improves over time, and you want people to keep up with the technology," said Jacob Hollinger, an assistant New York state attorney general. Yet as technology advanced, some of the standards fell as much as 13 years behind congressional deadlines.
Unlike previous administrations, the Department of Energy under President Bush had not strengthened a single appliance standard, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In a report to Congress in January, the department acknowledged it fell behind for a number of reasons, including its complicated rule-making procedure.
In announcing the settlement Monday, the department and others in the case laid out firm dates for new efficiency rules.
For example, new standards for room air conditioners, central air conditioners and heat pumps are due by June 2011. New energy standards for dishwashers are due by March 2009. The energy department will set a reasonable time after the deadlines for manufacturers to adopt the new standards, according to several parties in the case.


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