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State legislative group encourages DOE to enforce efficiency standards

The National Conference of State Legislatures signed off on a resolution advising Congress to "fully fund" the U.S. Department of Energy's energy efficiency standards program. The resolution, which passed on a voice vote Aug. 7 at the National Conference of State Legislatures, or NCSL, legislative summit in Boston, urged Congress and the DOE's Office of Energy and Renewable Energy to continue the "highly successful" program.

The resolution recalled that the standards were developed following the enactment of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 and 1988, the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. However, President Donald Trump has proposed to slash funding for the DOE's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and several other agency programs.

Energy efficiency standards for appliances, equipment and lighting "protect consumers, are a cost-effective means to reduce energy and water waste, lower utility bills and decrease pollutants and atmospheric emissions including greenhouse gas emissions," the resolution said.

The resolution asserted that existing standards save the average U.S. household roughly $500 annually in utility bills. Businesses save between $14 billion and $23 billion annually, which can then be invested in jobs or local economies, the NCSL said. It added that federal efficiency standards "create a national marketplace and help stimulate innovative technologies, which are beneficial to American manufacturers in a competitive global environment." Lower energy and water use also helps lessen the need for new utility infrastructure.

In the resolution, the NCSL strongly recommended that the Energy Department amend the standards when "technically feasible and economically justified," and that customer choice should not be eliminated when it comes to energy technologies. Congress should also continue to require the agency review the standards on a regular basis, in case updates are needed, and to uphold the enforcement of existing standards, the NCSL said.

"State legislators from red and blue states across the country have demonstrated the broad and deep bipartisan support for continuing the 40-year-plus successful track record of saving American consumers and businesses money through federal appliance and equipment efficiency standards," the Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan said in a statement. "These state-level policy makers understand that if federal investments are cut, consumers and business across the country will be the ones to pay the price."

In June, a group of state attorneys general and the city of New York filed a lawsuit over what they called the DOE's failure to move forward with energy efficiency standards for several commercial and consumer products. The group charged that the agency unlawfully delayed implementing the standards for portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers, and commercial packaged boilers.