Tougher oversight needed for appliance standards program, internal watchdog says

The law in question is responsible for setting various voluntary and compulsory efficiency standards.

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Leaning on appliance and other efficiency standards is one peg of President Obama’s second-term climate change push, which includes an array of executive actions that don’t require congressional actions.

The attention to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act comes as the DOE is considering rolling out new standards for computers and servers under the law.

The DOE says the law's standards and certification program would result in $1.6 trillion in cumulative operating cost savings by 2030, reducing 6.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the process.

Since 2010, appliance manufacturers have amassed $5.6 million in fines for failing to comply with energy-efficiency standards and certification requirements established under the law, the report found.

The report said opportunities exist for more stringent oversight of the standards program.

The DOE has been tardy by an average of one year in approving rule-making for eight new standards and eight test procedures out of a total of 21 sampled, the report said.

The DOE also doesn’t have adequate procedures in place to periodically review the marketplace to ensure products were properly certified and that manufacturers recertified their wares, the report said.

The DOE concurred with the watchdog’s report, saying it believed recent coordination with the White House Office of Management and Budget will speed the rule-making process.