Last year, DOE formed a new unit in its general counsel’s office to prioritize enforcement of appliance energy efficiency standards. This is a big step forward for DOE and signals that the days of foot dragging on efficiency are long gone. This is the first time the agency has pursued a meaningful enforcement strategy for energy efficiency. President Obama and Secretary Chu clearly see the benefits of energy efficiency and have moved quickly to pursue it.
Already the new unit at the general counsel’s office has made significant progress. Here are the major accomplishments so far this year:
- On February 4th, DOE Instituted enforcement action against AeroSys, Inc. for failure to certify air conditioners and heat pumps. The notice proposes payments of $1,226,480 in fines. The manufacturer has 30 days to settle the claims or the Department will file actions to demand payment.
- On February 2nd, DOE warned nine manufacturers that submitted incomplete certification reports. The warning letters identified data deficiencies and demanded it be submitted.
- ON January 28th, DOE began enforcement proceedings against four showerhead manufacturers - Zoe Industries, Altmans Products LLC, EZ-FLO International, and Watermark Designs, Ltd.- for failure to certify 116 products. The notices propose joint penalties of over $3 million. The manufactuers had thirty days to settle the claims.
- On January 26th, DOE withdrew the Energy Star label from 34 compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulb models. The bulbs were manufactured by 25 manufacturers. Off-the-shelf testing showed that the bulbs do not last as long as is required to use the Energy Star label.
- On January 19th the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia upheld DOE's enforcement of Energy Star requirements against LG when certain refrigerators failed to meet Energy Star requirements.
- On January 7th, DOE entered a consent decree with Haier America to resolve a dispute over compliance with efficiency standards resulting from a defect in some Energy Star labeled freezers.
Obama and Chu’s DOE is clearly finding plenty of low hanging fruit for efficiency enforcement. These actions bring meaning to the energy efficiency standards—ensuring that the standards save billions of dollars, millions of tons of greenhouse gases, and protect consumers’ wallets and public health. My guess is that the violations DOE has found so far are only the tip of the iceberg and that more and improved testing will uncover many more. If you have information on efficiency violations, bring them to DOE. They have an open door policy. Of course, feel free to share them with NRDC, too.