Attorney General Mills announces agreement with U.S. Department of Energy to strengthen key Energy Efficiency Standards

August 12, 2013

(AUGUSTA, Maine) Attorney General Janet Mills applauded the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for agreeing to update overdue energy efficiency standards for four common commercial appliances. The federal agency has finally met the demands of an 11-member coalition of states and cities to update these efficiency standards.

The decision will help reduce energy consumption, saving American consumers millions of dollars each month and reducing pollution that contributes to climate change, water and air pollution.

?Maine has a strong interest in seeing long-term reductions in air and water pollution,? said Attorney General Janet T. Mills. ?Reducing energy consumption will save Mainers money and will improve the air we breathe and the water we drink. Increasing these efficiency standards will have a positive impact on the health of the hundreds of thousands of Mainers who suffer from asthma and other lung and cardiovascular diseases. I am pleased with this action but deplore the length of time it has taken for the government to update these standards. .?

Attorney General Mills noted that Mainers suffer a high rate of diseases that are influenced by pollution. The American Lung Association estimates that in 2012, 23,000 Maine children had pediatric asthma and another 127,000 adults suffered from asthma. More than 83,000 Maine citizens suffered from COPD and 377,000 Mainers from cardiovascular disease. These conditions can be influenced by air pollution.

The government?s action was prompted by a 11-member coalition, consisting of nine state Attorneys General, the California Energy Commission and the City of New York, who announced on Friday an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) committing the Department to a specific timetable for updating the overdue energy efficiency standards.

The agreement was reached after DOE missed deadlines set by the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) for revising efficiency standards for walk-in coolers and freezers, metal halide lamps, electric motors and commercial refrigeration equipment. Strengthening the standards will substantially reduce air and water pollution and will save businesses and consumers across the country an estimated $156 million per month - and $3.8 billion per year by 2035.

The Agreement commits DOE to the following schedule for proposing and then finalizing updated energy efficiency standards for the four appliances:

Appliance Proposed Standard Final Standard Metal Halide Lamps 8/2013 01/2014 Commercial Refrigeration Equipment 8/2013 02/2014 Walk in Coolers/Freezers 8/2013 04/2014 Electric Motors 11/2013 05/2014

The coalition reserves the right to take legal action under EPCA to force DOE to update the standards if the Department fails to meet any of the deadlines.

Initially enacted in 1975, the EPCA requires the federal agency to meet specific deadlines for reviewing and revising energy efficiency standards for over 50 categories of common commercial and residential products that use large amounts of energy. Standards must be set at maximum efficiency levels that are technologically feasible and economically justified. In the case of walk-in coolers and freezers and metal halide lamps, EPCA required that updated standards be in place 18 months ago, by January 1, 2012. The Act further required updated standards for commercial refrigeration equipment and electric motors to be in place January 1, 2013, seven months ago.

Walk-in coolers and refrigerators are spaces large enough for people to enter, and are used for temporary storage of refrigerated or frozen food. Commercial refrigeration equipment includes a diverse mix of refrigerators and freezers, including display cases, commonly used in supermarkets and convenience stores. Metal halide lamps fixtures are lights commonly used in large spaces such as industrial buildings, sports stadiums, gymnasiums and big-box retail stores and as street lights. Electric motors include an array of motors of varying sizes that run pumps, fans blowers, compressors and other commercial equipment.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) estimates that, as a result of updating energy efficiency standards for the four appliances, 2.2 million metric tons of climate change pollution will be eliminated and consumers will save $156 million each month.

The ACEEE further estimates that, by 2035, strengthened energy efficiency standards for the four appliances will save businesses and consumers $3.8 billion per year. The cumulative energy savings by 2035 would be enough to supply all of the energy needs in the United States for three weeks. Additionally, stronger standards would cut tens of millions of pounds annually of the pollution that contributes to smog, soot and acid rain, and reduce climate change pollution by over 26 million metric tons annually -- the equivalent to retiring at least six coal-burning power plants.

The generation of electricity, particularly that involving fossil fuels, contributes to a range of environmental and public health harms, including air and water pollution, and climate change. The extraction, production and transport of coal, oil and natural gas to power plants add to these harms. By reducing electricity usage, energy efficiency standards effectively and efficiently reduce environmental and public health impacts -- and provide important consumer benefits. Energy efficient products lower energy bills for their owners and, by reducing energy demand, also help bring down the price of energy for all consumers.

Joining in the agreement are the Attorneys General of New York, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, the California Energy Commission and the Corporation Counsel of New York City.