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Standards Update – 1st Quarter 2012

Created 4/23/2012 by Charlie Stephens
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The first quarter of the year picked up quickly where the last one left off. On January 12th, the California Energy Commission adopted Battery Charging System standards, estimated to save that state 2,100 GWh per year when fully implemented. NEEA testified in support of those standards.

Then on January 17th, USDOE published a Final Rule for Automatic Commercial Icemaker Test Procedures and announced a public meeting for their preliminary analysis for new standards.

On January 26th, USDOE began a rulemaking for Set-Top Boxes (STBs) and Small Network Equipment. A group of efficiency advocates is talking with representatives of the cable industry to see what kinds of voluntary program efforts might be used to significantly improve the efficiency of these devices in advance of any regulation that might occur. This product class is also on the California Energy Commission’s highest priority list of products for which standards might be appropriate. No decision in that regard will be made, though, until the fall of the year. The definition of “small network equipment” is undefined at the moment, with DOE and others collecting information about the various products that might be regulated as such. No energy standards current exist for set top boxes.

DOE also kicked off its television test procedure and standards rulemaking processes with a public workshop on the test procedure on March 22nd. The proposal was a good one, and builds on international (IEC) and Energy Star test methods. One big change that is proposed, and has general support, is measuring TV power consumption at a range of room illuminance levels. Testing now is done at 0 lux (utterly dark room) and 300 lux (brighter than daylight), with the results averaged. Neither of these is representative of typical use situations. Depending on how Automatic Brightness Control (ABC) is implemented, power levels for some television models may test very differently under the new procedure. A Test Procedure Final Rule is expected by the end of summer, with its use being mandatory by the spring of 2013. By that time the standards rulemaking should be underway, as well.

Residential product rulemakings in progress:
  1. Televisions – This one started with the test procedure rulemaking Proposed Rule in March, and will continue through to the end of 2013 when a Final Rule for the efficiency standards is expected to be published. Set-Top Boxes (STBs) and Small Network Equipment – This one started with a Request for Information (RFI) at the beginning of the year. The definitions for small network equipment (SNE) have not been finalized yet. DOE will probably issue a Determination in the summer as to its intent to regulate this family of products. The Province of British Columbia is also looking at regulating STBs, as in the California Energy Commission (CEC).
  2. Certain ER, BR and Small Diameter Reflector Lamps – no new developments. The Preliminary Analysis still due in December 2012.
  3. Clothes Washer Test Procedure – The Final Rule was published on March 7th. DOE made very few changes from the last SNOPR, and we are still somewhat concerned that the energy use measured using the test procedure may not track actual use in the field very well. NEEA’s data from laundry component of the RBSA field study will likely shed some light on these issues. That data will be provided to DOE in May.
  4. Clothes Washer Standards – Direct Final Rule still expected by mid-year.
  5. Dishwashers – No new activity on this one. Final Rule still expected in late 2012.
  6. Non-Class A External Power Supplies and Battery Charger Standards – Proposed Rule published on March 27th, with the public meeting scheduled for May 2nd. Our initial look at the proposal suggests that there are a lot of energy savings left on the table, and that there is not good alignment with the California standards. NEEA will be advocating for complete alignment in the classes regulated by the federal standards.
  7. Microwave Oven Standby and Off-mode Energy Use Standards – Supplemental Proposed Rule published on February 14th. It appears to be a good proposal, with standby power being limited to less than 2 watts. There are some industry concerns about product classes, so it’s still too early to tell where this one will land.


Commercial and Industrial product rulemakings in progress: 
  1. Automatic Icemakers – The Test Procedure Final Rule for this family of products was issued on January 17th, and the preliminary analyses for the efficiency standards were issued on January 24th. The Final Rule for these products is still expected in late 2012.
  2. Commercial Refrigeration Equipment – we’re expecting a Test Procedure Final Rule and a Standards Proposed Rule in the spring of 2012, and a Standards Final Rule by January 2013.
  3. Distribution Transformers – The Proposed Rule for new standards was published on February 12th. DOE proposed the standards recommended by the negotiators for medium voltage dry-type transformers, but for liquid-immersed and low-voltage, dry-type transformers, it recommended standards that appear to provide about one-quarter of the energy savings that are clearly cost-effective. Efficiency advocates are recommending that DOE adopt levels much closer to the lowest life cycle cost points indicated by the analyses. Even manufacturers recommended more stringent standards than DOE is proposing at present. The Final Rule must be published (as agreed in the court settlement that led to this rulemaking) by October 1st, 2012.
  4. Electric Motors – No new developments here. We still expect a Final Rule mid- to late 2012 and a foreshortened effective date, as proposed as part of the efficiency advocates and industry joint proposal to DOE. 5.      HID Lamps – DOE is about to finalize the Test Procedure for these lamps, and issued a standards rulemaking Framework document on February 28th. A Final Rule is still expected in mid- to late 2012.
  5. Metal Halide Lamp Fixtures – No new developments for this one. We’re expecting a Proposed Rule and refined analysis in the second quarter.
  6. Walk-in Coolers and Freezer Standards – No new developments for this one. It is getting less and less certain that a Final Rule can be published by the end of 2012.
  7. General Service Fluorescent Lamps (GSFLs) and Incandescent Reflector Lamps (IRLs) – The new standards for GSFLs that are scheduled to take effect in July of this year will not include an upgrade for most 700 series T8 lamps sold in the U.S. On April 16th, DOE’s Office of Hearings & Appeals (OHA) ruled in favor of the petitions for relief sought by the three largest lamp manufacturers (Philips, GE, and Osram Sylvania), granting them a 2-year delay in the implementation of new lamp efficiency standards for T8 lamps manufactured in plants that are subject to constraints in their supply of phosphors for the lamps. Each of the 3 major manufacturers has a plant in the U.S. that meets this description. Savings from the 2012 standards will have to be adjusted accordingly.

NEEA continued to work with EPA’s Energy Star Water Heaters team to advocate for the use of the Pacific Northwest’s Northern Climate Heat Pump Water Heater Specification, or key components thereof, in the Energy Star specification for these products. So far, EPA has adopted only two of our recommended specification elements (disclosure of the compressor cut-off temperature and the provision of an alarm system that will tell a home’s occupants when the compressor is not working or has been disabled by the control system). We will continue to engage with EPA on these important issues.

NEEA’s laundry field research study is out of the field, and the data from the 50 participant households is being assembled. So far, the data looks excellent. The data will go to DOE in May for use in helping them upgrade the test procedure for clothes dryers. The icemaker field study is now collecting data from 90 households, and will come out of the field starting in late July. Data will go to DOE in September, to help specify the changes to the refrigerator-freezer test procedure.

We’re still expecting a significant number of Final Rules in 2012, delivering significant new energy savings starting in 2015 or 2016. We’ll report on the estimated regional energy savings shortly after the Final Rules are published.  

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