Energy & Environment

Energy issues rule allowing companies to develop own efficiency tests for products

The Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday finalized a rule that allows companies to develop their own methods for testing the energy efficiency of their products.

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. 

Any petition would also automatically be granted if the agency does not respond in 45 days.

Consumer groups called the rule an invitation for abuse, comparing it to the scheme developed by Volkswagen to skirt emissions standards.

“The new rule opens the door to unscrupulous manufacturers skirting the rules and selling products that use more energy than competing products that follow the rules,” Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said in a statement. 

“Under no conditions should a manufacturer be waived from federal test procedure requirements simply by the passage of time,” he continued, adding that companies seeking to use different testing methods should have to get an affirmative response from the agency.

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

Major manufacturers of lighting, home appliances and plumbing products were largely supportive of the plan when it was first proposed with just a 30-day window for DOE to respond, arguing the timeline would provide certainty to companies and speed up operations at the agency, according to a joint letter from associations representing the three industries.

The Trump administration has finalized a number of energy efficiency rollbacks while in office, erasing Obama-era standards for lightbulbs and green-lighting lower standards for quick wish dishwashers that were already meeting the old ones.

DOE is still waiting to finalize a rule that would, like the dishwasher regulation, create a new class of quick-cycle washers and dryers that meet lower energy efficiency standards.

It’s also still working on a showerhead rule that would essentially allow different components within the device to count as individual fixtures, sidestepping requirements that allow no more than 2.5 gallons to flow through per minute.

The showerhead proposal followed numerous complaints by President Trump about low-flow products.

“Showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect,” he said to laughter at an event in July on rolling back regulations.

Tags appliances Department of Energy Donald Trump
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