Federal Energy Dept. To Improve Appliance Efficiency

Attorney General Spitzer today announced an agreement under which the federal Department of Energy (DOE) will set new standards to sharply increase the energy efficiency of many types of domestic appliances, such as home ranges and ovens, air conditioners and dishwashers. This action settles a federal lawsuit against DOE brought by New York and a coalition of 14 other states, the City of New York and three public interest groups.

"These common sense standards will save consumers money, lower our dependence on foreign oil, and improve public health and our environment," said Spitzer. "I applaud the federal energy department for settling this matter and moving forward with these new standards."

New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said: "Appliance and equipment efficiency standards are one of the most critical means to save energy and to improve overall air quality and public health. New York City residents and businesses pay some of the highest energy prices in the country, and the cost improvements of more efficient appliances will be a benefit to all New Yorkers."

According to DOE’s own estimates, the standards covered by this agreement may reduce energy use by as much as 35 quadrillion BTUs over an approximately 30-year period. By comparison, all US households combined consumed 21 quadrillion BTUs of energy in 2004. The standards also have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gases, and annual carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by as much as 103 million metric tons a year. This is the equivalent of eliminating emissions from over 18 million cars and light trucks from America’s roads.

In the 1980's, Congress directed the DOE to periodically update existing efficiency standards for a wide range of consumer products under specific deadlines. The energy department has consistently failed in this regard and is as much as 14 years late in developing standards for some products. In September 2005, after attempting to resolve the delays, New York led a coalition of states in suing in an effort to compel DOE to catch up on the lapsed deadlines. The lawsuit sought a binding schedule for the overdue standards, which is what the settlement agreement announced today provides.

The use of energy efficient appliances reduces air pollution, global warming, and other environmental problems associated with the generation of electricity, while also saving money for residential and commercial consumers. Increased energy efficiency also improves the reliability of the electric grid.

The agreement was signed by United States District Court Judge John E. Sprizzo of the Southern District of New York. The agreement covers the following products:


Product Category Deadline For DOE to Publish Final Rule
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

Attorneys General from the following states joined New York in the lawsuit: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. Other parties in the case included the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the California Energy Commission, the City of New York, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants and the Texas Ratepayers Organization to Save Energy.

The case was handled by New York Assistant Attorney General Jacob Hollinger of the Environmental Protection Bureau.


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