August ’23 at-a-glance … energy

NAFEM and peers meet with OMB to discuss concerns with proposed CRE rule

Leaving no stone unturned, NAFEM, the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) met with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposed energy-conservation standards for commercial refrigeration equipment (CRE). NAFEM and its peers recommended that OMB send the proposal back to the agency and direct it to issue a “no-new standard” rule, which would provide an additional three years before a new standard is promulgated.

During an ex parte meeting with DOE in June, NAFEM, AHRI and NAMA shared the same concerns with the agency about the proposed standards. These included the fact that the agency’s preliminary technical support document (pTSD) references outdated data that doesn’t align with current market conditions. Also, many of the agency’s suggested design options are already in use to meet current requirements, some are impractical and others have high costs.

“Manufacturers need the certainty of reasonably balanced rulemakings to ensure that equipment can be designed, manufactured, installed, and used to serve food safely and satisfy customer expectations. Instead, NAFEM members are experiencing an extraordinary regulatory burden represented by uncoordinated, poorly developed requirements hitting at the same time,” said Charlie Souhrada, CFSP, NAFEM vice president regulatory and technical affairs. “We welcome greater engagement with DOE to maximize energy savings that are reasonable and practicable. Sending the CRE NOPR back to DOE for improvement based on industry expertise is a great place to start.”  NAFEM also requested a no-new standard in its July automatic commercial icemaker (ACIM)-related comments, citing similar concerns around transparency, plus the inclusion of portable ACIMs and refrigerated storage, both of which are not for use in the commercial setting.

DOE issues NOPR re: energy conservation standards for walk-in coolers/ freezers

DOE issued a pre-publication notice of proposed rulemaking to amend energy conservation standards for walk-in coolers and freezers. Specifically, DOE proposes to amend standards for walk-in non-display doors and walk-in refrigeration systems. The agency will hold a webinar to discuss the proposed standards Sept. 27 from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET. Those interested in attending the webinar can register on DOE’s website. Comments will be due 60 days after the NOPR is published in the Federal Register.

NY looks to expand energy efficiency and building electrification

New York’s The New Efficiency and Clean Energy Fund portfolios are undergoing interim reviews, as required by the Public Service Commission. These reviews are intended to assess progress to date and consider modifications that will improve future energy efficiency (EE) and building electrification (BE). Following a public comment period on an EE and BE staff report, the commission established a Strategic Framework to better align with the State’s climate policy objectives. Among other findings in the 102-page report, the Commission:

  • Explicitly prohibits the use of ratepayer funds for customer incentives after 2025 for plug-in appliances that are permanently connected to buildings.
  • Considers it important to develop additional appliance standards in the future.
  • Recommends that funded incentives for efficient gas appliances be redirected toward building-shell improvement and electrification.

For the full report, see item #12 on the list.

California set to consider energy-efficiency standards for multiple products

The California Energy Commission (CEC) opened a docket to commence an appliance-efficiency rulemaking for commercial steam cookers, convection ovens, dishwashers and fryers. According to CEC, the goal of the rulemaking is to reduce energy consumption and, if applicable, water consumption in the state. NAFEM will alert members when draft regulations are available and public hearings are scheduled.

DOE BENEFIT projects support building practices that reduce energy waste

DOE’s Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers and Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) program awarded $46 million to 29 projects across 15 states to develop advanced building technologies and retrofit practices that reduce energy waste. According to the agency, residential and commercial buildings are the largest energy consuming sector of the U.S. economy, responsible for approximately 40% of the nation’s energy consumption, 74% of its electricity use, and 35% of its total carbon emissions. Estimates indicate roughly one-third, or more, of the energy used by buildings is wasted at a cost of $150 billion annually. More information and a full list of selected projects is available on DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) website.

Ban on incandescent bulbs does not impact appliance bulbs

Effective Aug. 1, light bulbs, or general service lamps (GSL), must emit a minimum of 45 lumens per watt. According to CNN, the law “effectively outlaws the manufacture and sale of common incandescent bulbs that typically provide 15 lumens per watt.” Most LED bulbs provide 75 lumens or more per watt. The rule was initially issued in 2007, rolled back by the Trump administration and signed into law by President Biden in April 2022.

According to a DOE EERE policy document, appliance lamps are not GSL and therefore excluded from the rule. Overall, 26 types of excluded lamps are listed in the policy.