Energy Department proposes efficiency rules for ice makers

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Ice makers are the latest appliance facing energy efficiency scrutiny from the Obama administration.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is considering more energy conservation rules for automatic commercial ice makers that could cost the industry millions but save consumers even more on their energy bills, the agency said Friday.

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The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will publish the proposed rule for commercial ice makers in Monday's edition of the Federal Register

"DOE’s analyses indicate that the proposed standards for automatic commercial ice makers would save a significant amount of energy," the agency wrote. 

Commercial ice makers can be found in hotels, hospitals, schools, office buildings, supermarkets and restaurants, the agency noted.

The rules would apply to continuous ice-making machines that can produce between 50 pounds and 2,500 pounds of ice in a 24-hour period. They would establish new standards for the maximum allowable energy use per 100 pounds of ice production. 

The Energy Department said manufacturers are already required to comply with some energy conservation standards for certain commercial ice makers, but the proposed rule would expand the agency's authority and strengthen regulations.

The department estimates the new energy conservation standards will cost manufacturers $23.9 million over a 30-year period, which is about a quarter of the industry's projected profits.

"Based on DOE’s interviews with the manufacturers of automatic commercial ice makers, DOE does not expect any plant closings or significant loss of employment," the agency wrote.

However, the Energy Department also estimates that the new energy conservation standards will lead to costs between $791 million and $1.75 billion during that time.

The agency determined that the cost to manufacturers was worth the savings to consumers. The rules are "designed to achieve the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that is technologically feasible and economically justified and would result in significant conservation of energy," it wrote.

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed rule, which wouldn't go into effect for three years. The agency plans to hold a public hearing on April 14 to discuss the rule.

"If adopted, the proposed standards would apply to all equipment manufactured in, or imported into, the United States," the agency wrote.