DOE refuses public hearing on a proposal that could gut US appliance standards

(ACEEE blog, 11 Jun 2019) The Department of Energy (DOE) has quietly issued a proposal that could seriously undermine US energy efficiency standards for many appliances and products — everything from air conditioners and refrigerators to light bulbs and electric motors.

Last month, it proposed a rule that would allow individual manufacturers to secretly opt out of testing requirements.

Who would lose out? Competitors who play by the rules and the consumers and businesses unknowingly saddled with purchases that fail to meet minimum standards, wasting energy and money.

The proposal, which would change how manufacturers can be exempted from federal test procedure requirements, caught energy efficiency supporters and manufacturers alike by surprise. In response, ASAP and nine other organizations that participate in DOE’s regulatory processes requested a public meeting for DOE to better explain the proposal and receive input.

DOE had always allowed for public meetings on proposed test procedure changes for specific products in the past. Surely, a proposal that would affect every product’s test procedure and compliance would merit the enhanced scrutiny of a public meeting. To our shock, DOE staff refused. Twice.

Today, we renewed our request in a letter to Assistant Secretary Daniel Simmons and DOE General Counsel Bill Cooper, urging them to reverse course and hold a public meeting on the proposed rule. The details of this proposal are way too important to shortchange the public review process.

A back door for opting out of compliance

All products subject to federal efficiency standards must be certified as meeting the applicable standard based on a uniform test procedure. These test procedures are at the heart of a fair and reliable national appliance standards program. They provide the rules of the road, assuring a level playing field for competitors and giving consumers and businesses confidence that products meet standards and attain the efficiency performance advertised.

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ACEEE blog, 11 Jun 2019: DOE refuses public hearing on a proposal that could gut US appliance standards