July at-a-glance … energy

DOE issues second NOPR seeking feedback on Process Rule

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to potentially further amend the 2020 Process Rule. The agency proposes to provide additional flexibility for DOE during the pre-NOPR stages of energy conservation standard and test procedure rulemakings, while preserving opportunities for stakeholders to provide early input in the rulemaking process; provide clarification on the Energy Policy and Conservation Act’s (EPCA) rulemaking process for ASHRAE equipment; and revise the sections on DOE’s analytical methods to reflect current rulemaking practices. According to Tammy Helminski, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg, “We understand members need predictability in the rulemaking process. It’s also critical that energy-efficiency test procedures be complete before proposed rulemaking, and that members have sufficient time to understand and incorporate these standards into their product portfolios.”

Those interested can register for a DOE webinar where the agency will discuss the NOPR Tuesday, Aug. 10, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., to discuss the proposed rulemaking. Comments are due Aug. 23.

DOE review of WIC/WIF, CRE test procedures continues; new RFIs issued to consider energy-conservation standards

The comment periods have closed for DOE’s requests for information (RFIs) to determine whether it should amend test procedures for commercial refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers and freezers (CRE) and walk-in coolers and freezers (WIC/WIF). The industry will have additional opportunities to comment once DOE issues its recommendations.

In the meantime, the agency also issued RFIs to evaluate potentially amending energy-conservation standards for WIC/WIF and CRE. Comments are due Aug. 16 and Aug. 30, respectively. Members interested in contributing to NAFEM’s comments on these issues should email Charlie Souhrada.

Opponents of Berkley natural gas ban lose argument

The California Restaurant Association’s (CRA) claim that the local Berkley, Calif., ban on new natural gas hookups was preempted by the federal EPCA was dismissed by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. CRA stated that the ordinance “effectively prohibits the use of natural gas appliances.” In response, the Court said, “The fact that an ordinance focused on piping may have some downstream impact on commercial appliances is insufficient.” In June, Sacramento became the 46th California city to commit to phase out gas in new buildings. NAFEM’s Fuels Task Group is closely monitoring this situation.

NAFEM opposes NRCan plan to make ENERGY STAR® mandatory

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is considering banning the sale of some home appliances in the country that do not meet ENERGY STAR levels. The proposal does not affect commercial appliances, but it could set that ball in motion. In a letter to NRCan addressing its concerns with this approach, NAFEM stated, “The proposed action will undercut the harmonized energy conservation standards and test procedures in Canada and the U.S. and negatively affect the integrity of the ENERGY STAR brand.”

ENERGY Star was not created to set minimum energy-efficiency standards, explained Charlie Souhrada, CFSP, NAFEM’s vice president, Regulatory & Technical Affairs. It is a voluntary program intended to highlight the top 25-30 percent – or best in class – of energy-efficient appliances. “If every product available for sale meets ENERGY STAR requirements, then there is no actual ENERGY STAR distinction, which is confusing for consumers who are still likely to see ENERGY STAR labels on most products.”

DOE issues RFI to better understand energy sheds

As part of its remit to accelerate the deployment of clean-energy technologies to equitably transition the U.S. to a net-zero greenhouse gas economy by 2050, DOE issued a Request for Information (RFI) on “energysheds” and energyshed management systems. A relatively new concept, energyshed refers to the network of facilities that power any given city. The management system helps manage energy mix to reduce the city’s overall environmental footprint. NAFEM’s Fuels Task Group will monitor this ongoing conversation.