Federal officials update energy efficiency standards on four commercial appliances after missing deadline

Posted Aug. 12, 2013, at 6:05 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Attorney General Janet Mills on Monday lauded the U.S. Department of Energy for agreeing to update energy efficiency standards next year for four commercial appliances commonly used by businesses.

The decision will help reduce energy consumption; save U.S. consumers millions of dollars each month; and reduce emissions that contributes to climate change, water and air pollution, Mills said in a press release.

The settlement was reached after DOE missed 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, the press release said.

The DOE’s action, announced Friday, was prompted by an 11-member coalition, consisting of nine state attorneys general, the California Energy Commission and the city of New York that all threatened to sue over the missed deadlines, Tim Feeley, spokesman for Mills, said Monday.

Strengthening the standards will substantially reduce air and water pollution and will save businesses and consumers across the country an estimated $156 million per month and $3.8 billion per year by 2035.

Walk-in coolers and refrigerators are spaces large enough for people to enter, and are used for temporary storage of refrigerated or frozen food, according to the press release. Commercial refrigeration equipment includes a diverse mix of refrigerators and freezers, including display cases commonly used in supermarkets and convenience stores.

Metal halide lamps fixtures are lights commonly used in large spaces such as industrial buildings, sports stadiums, gymnasiums, big-box retail stores and as street lights, the release said. 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 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 council further estimates that, by 2035, strengthened energy efficiency standards for the four appliances will save businesses and consumers $3.8 billion per year, the release said. The cumulative energy savings by 2035 would be enough to supply all the energy needs in the U.S. 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 to retiring at least six coal-burning power plants.

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