Department of Energy Sets Major Roadblocks to Future Energy Efficiency Standards

WASHINGTON – The Department of Energy (DOE) today radically altered its process for setting and updating national energy efficiency standards for residential and commercial appliances and equipment, making it significantly more difficult to establish future energy-saving measures and drastically reducing the potential to lower consumer energy bills and power plant pollution. 

The DOE alterations to its Process Rule require several new steps to establish efficiency standards, substantially increase the energy savings threshold required to trigger the protocols (far beyond some current standards that are saving sizable amounts of money and pollution), and will basically allow manufacturers to design the test procedures used to determine if their products meet standards.

Lauren Urbanek, senior energy policy advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Energy Program, issued the following statement:

“This insidious step will undercut the nation’s most successful energy-saving program at the expense of the budgets and health of American families and businesses. Changes to the process used by the Department of Energy to set efficiency standards may seem like mere procedural modifications, but in truth DOE just made it far more difficult -- and in some cases, impossible -- to establish future safeguards against energy-wasting appliances, electronics, and equipment.

“The Department of Energy is ensuring that U.S. consumers will pay dearly through unnecessarily higher energy costs and pollution levels because of these changes advantaging manufacturers over U.S. consumers and businesses. We won’t let this stand.”

The average U.S. household saves about $500 annually thanks to efficiency standards, which cover 60 categories of appliances and equipment representing about 90 percent of home energy use, 60 percent of energy use in commercial buildings, and 30 percent of industrial energy use. Existing efficiency standards for those products, alone, will save consumers $2 trillion on their utility bills and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 7 billion metric tons by 2030.

However, the Trump DOE has made little progress on standards. Last week, in the wake of two court rulings, it was forced to finalize four standards begun under the Obama administration. Meanwhile, DOE has missed legal deadlines for review of at least 21 product standards and 19 test procedures.

After reviewing the more than 300-page rule, Lauren Urbanek will post a blog with more details at Background information can be found here.   

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC  

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