Leading A Multi-State Coalition, A.G. Schneiderman Obtains Commitment From Federal Government To Strengthen Key Energy Efficiency Standards

US Department Of Energy Commits To Timetable For Updating Overdue National Energy-Saving Standards For Widely Used Commercial Appliances

Strengthened Standards Will Reduce Air, Water And Climate-Change Pollution, Save Businesses And Consumers Over $150 Million Monthly

Schneiderman: Energy Efficiency Is Critical To Fighting Climate Change, Saving Consumers Money

NEW YORK -- New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of 10 states and the City of New York, today announced an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy that commits the Department to a timetable for updating overdue energy efficiency standards for four common commercial appliances. The agreement was reached after DOE missed legal deadlines set by the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) for revising efficiency standards for walk-in coolers and freezers, metal halide lamps, electric motors and commercial refrigeration equipment. Strengthening the standards will result in substantial cuts in air, water and climate change pollution and save businesses and consumers across the country an estimated $156 million per month, and $3.8 billion per year by 2035.

"Energy efficiency is recognized as one of the best ways to cut pollution, fight climate change and save consumers money," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "Updating the energy-efficiency standards for these widely used commercial appliances is not only a legal requirement, it will result in less pollution and save businesses and consumers more than $150 million each month. With this agreement, DOE has committed to adopting common-sense standards that fight pollution and keep money in people's pockets."

The Agreement commits DOE to the following schedule for proposing and then finalizing updated energy efficiency standards for the four appliances:


Proposed Standard

Final Standard

Metal Halide Lamps



Commercial Refrigeration Equipment



Walk in Coolers/Freezers



Electric Motors




Schneiderman's coalition reserves the right to take legal action under EPCA to force DOE to update the standards if it fails to meet any of the deadlines.

Initially enacted in 1975, the EPCA requires the federal agency to meet specific deadlines for reviewing and revising energy efficiency standards for more than 50 categories of common commercial and residential products that use large amounts of energy. Standards must be set at maximum efficiency levels that are technologically feasible and economically justified. In the case of walk-in coolers and freezers and metal halide lamps, EPCA required that updated standards be in place 18 months ago, by January 1, 2012. The act further required updated standards for commercial refrigeration equipment and electric motors to be in place January 1, 2013, seven months ago.

Walk-in coolers and refrigerators are spaces large enough for people to enter and are used for temporary storage of refrigerated or frozen food. Commercial refrigeration equipment includes a diverse mix of refrigerators and freezers, including display cases commonly used in supermarkets and convenience stores. Metal halide lamps are fixtures commonly used in large spaces such as industrial buildings, sports stadiums, gymnasiums and big-box retail stores and as street lights. Electric motors include an array of motors of varying sizes that run pumps, fans, blowers, compressors and other commercial equipment.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) estimates that as a result of updating energy efficiency standards for the four appliances, 2.2 million metric tons of climate change pollution will be eliminated and consumers will save $156 million each month.

The ACEEE further estimates that, by 2035, strengthened energy efficiency standards for the four appliances will save businesses and consumers $3.8 billion per year. The cumulative energy savings by 2035 would be enough to supply all the energy needs in the United States for three weeks. Additionally, stronger standards would cut tens of millions of pounds annually of the pollution that contributes to smog, soot and acid rain, and reduce climate change pollution by more than 26 million metric tons annually -- the equivalent of retiring at least six coal-burning power plants.

The generation of electricity, particularly involving fossil fuels, contributes to a range of environmental and public health harms, including air and water pollution, and climate change. The extraction, production and transport of coal, oil and natural gas to power plants add to these harms. By reducing electricity usage, energy efficiency standards effectively and efficiently reduce environmental and public-health impacts and provide important consumer benefits. Energy efficient products lower energy bills for their owners by reducing energy demand.

Joining Attorney General Schneiderman in today's agreement are the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, the California Energy Commission and the Corporation Counsel of New York City.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Timothy Hoffman and John Sipos of the Attorney General's Environmental Protection Bureau under the supervision of Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg and First Deputy for Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel.