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Agencies win lawsuit over DOE’s failure to update energy efficiency standards

Energy Efficiency Labels Yellow Yearly Operating Costs elabel_highresDecades ago, I remember writing about energy efficiency labels being proposed for appliances. It was exciting when the new yellow labels appeared listing the estimated amount of energy an appliance would use in a year.

Most people these days recognize the yellow labels and rely on them while shopping.

Positive news about energy efficiency is that a coalition of 17 states, the District of Columbia, and the city of New York won a lawsuit committing the U.S. Department of Energy to a new timetable for updating energy efficiency standards for 20 categories of consumer products and commercial equipment.

The lawsuit alleged the Trump administration’s DOE failed to comply with deadlines for updating energy efficiency standards for product set out in a 1975 energy policy law.

The products range from residential furnaces to laundry machines to electric motors. The updated standards could provide more than $600 billion in utility bill savings to American families by 2050 and avoid more than 90 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually by 2040.

“Increasing energy efficiency is widely recognized as one of the best ways we can cut pollution, fight climate change, and cut costs for families,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Among the other states involved in the lawsuit and settlement are California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

The DOE’s energy efficiency standards currently cover more than 60 product categories. Nationwide, these products use about 90 percent of the energy used in homes, 60 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings, and 30 percent of the energy used in industrial facilities.

The law requires DOE to review and revise efficiency standards to ensure they’re set at the maximum, technically feasible and cost-effective efficiency level to save energy and reduce consumer and business utility costs.

In addition to the 2020 lawsuit by the agencies, consumer and environmental organizations also filed a lawsuit on DOE’s missed energy deadlines.

“This agreement is essential for catching up on missed deadlines as quickly as possible in order for the incredible consumer, economic, public health, and environmental benefits of updated standards to be realized,” said Richard Eckman, energy advocate for the Consumer Federation of America, an association of consumer groups.

Now more than ever, consumers can use the additional pocketbook savings that updated efficiency standards will provide in the billions annually thanks to the increased energy efficiency of common household appliances, Eckman said.


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