Manufacturers oppose energy efficiency testing rule designed to benefit industry

Manufacturers oppose energy efficiency testing rule designed to benefit industry

Some appliance manufacturers are pushing back against an energy efficiency testing proposal from the Department of Energy (DOE) designed to benefit the industry.

The agency currently sets forth how companies must test their products to determine whether they meet energy efficiency standards, but under the new proposal, companies would be able to develop their own testing procedures. 

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The rule would apply to everything from refrigerator motors to air conditioners to lightbulbs.

“Carrier thinks this is bad policy as it opens the door for bad actors to abuse the system and introduce and/or misrepresent underperforming products into the marketplace,” the air conditioning and refrigeration company wrote in comments to the Energy Department earlier this month that were reviewed by The Hill. 

Environmental groups and state attorneys general have also spoken out against the proposal, but the public comments show a division within the industry over the proposed changes.

Under the department’s proposal, companies would be allowed to used whatever testing procedure they propose, so long as the agency doesn’t respond within 30 days. 

“Say an importer wants to sell some noncompliant product,” said Joanna Mauer with the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, an energy efficiency advocacy group. “They can propose some test procedure that makes their products look more efficient than they are and if DOE doesn’t respond in 30 days that product could be released on the U.S. market which is bad for consumers and bad for their competitors.”

Major manufacturers of lighting, home appliances and plumbing products were largely supportive of the plan, saying the 30-day timeline would provide certainty to companies and speed up operations at the agency, according to a joint letter from associations representing the three industries.

But some companies expressed concern the process could give less scrupulous companies a competitive edge.

“Automatic approval provides an incentive for manufacturers to skirt DOE requirements by submitting unmerited test procedure waivers, to the detriment of consumers that rely on the quality of products subject to waivers and competing manufacturers that comply with applicable DOE requirements,” Lennox International, which makes heating and cooling systems, wrote to the department. 

The Department of Energy did not respond to request for comment. The industry comments come after a webinar held by the agency in response to pushback over a decision not to hold a hearing on the changes.