DOE proposes new efficiency standards for electric motors

The Energy Department on Monday proposed a new rule to increase energy efficiency for electric motors.

The rule could save consumers up to $23 billion and cut emissions of carbon dioxide from electric motors by roughly 400 million metric tons over a 30-year span, the department said.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) called the proposed standards "long overdue" and praised the agency.

"These proposed standards were set at levels supported by both motor manufacturers and efficiency advocates, including NRDC," the council said on its blog. "When you have advocates and manufacturers agreeing on efficiency standards for 50 percent of the U.S.’s industrial electricity use, that’s a big deal!"

Electric motors make up nearly half of the nation's industrial electricity use, according to the NRDC.

Motors covered by the new rule include those in the 1- to 500-horsepower range that operate fans, pumps in elevators, conveyor belts, driving compressors and furnace fans.

The proposal coincides with efficiency goals announced under President Obama's climate plan in June.

All told, the administration's energy efficiency standards are set to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.7 billion tons by 2030, the department said.

Over the past four months, the Energy Department has proposed four other efficiency rules, which include revised standards for commercial refrigeration units, walk-in coolers and freezers, lamp fixtures and furnace fans. 

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