NewEnergyNews: DOE = DELAY ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY

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    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    DOE = DELAY ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY

    Energy Efficiency Meets A Lower Bar
    Mark Clayton, October 24, 2006 (Christian Science Monitor via CBSNews.com)

    - Under pressure to find new ways to save energy, the U.S. Department of Energy is speeding adoption of new efficiency standards for devices ranging from pool heaters to microwave ovens. President Bush is apparently on board, too, pushing the need for energy conservation in a speech earlier this month.
    - That's good news for energy advocates…But in the three standards it has proposed itself, the department has set a far lower bar than efficiency advocates had wanted. Two of the standards are so low that even some industry officials are complaining. Earlier this month, DOE surprised nearly everyone by nixing, on technical grounds, a proposal for home boilers backed by industry and consumer groups…

    - Such moves are causing many observers — from efficiency advocates to members of Congress — to question how deeply DOE is committed to energy efficiency, despite Mr. Bush's rhetoric…
    - Deep-sixing the home-boiler standard has caused the most surprise. Home boilers are used in hot-water and steam heating systems. The efficiency standard that industry and consumer groups had negotiated would have saved users of those systems a total of some $2.6 billion in energy costs through 2030. But…DOE…proposed a lower standard expected to save consumers an estimated $1.2 billion through 2030.
    - Efficiency advocates were upset. So was industry…Admittedly, setting standards is complex, because it involves balancing many factors…

    - On the same day the DOE rejected the boiler standard, for example, it also rebuffed a tough proposed standard for home furnaces…Some analysts say the department's choices may be the best possible given the pressure from industry and sniping from energy advocates…
    - Other analysts, however, note that it took the Bush administration six years to propose its first efficiency standard — for transformers, in August. Even there, the DOE sidestepped several tough standards that were much more energy- and cost-effective than the one it proposed…

    - Executives of nine large electric utilities upbraided the department for not taking a tougher stand…Utility executives were joined by New Mexico's two senators, Republican Pete Domenici and Democrat Jeff Bingaman, who sit on a committee that oversees the DOE…
    - Frustrated by the DOE's pace, Congress itself rammed through efficiency standards on clothes washers, ceiling fans, and more than a dozen other appliances as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005…

    Being weaker on conservation than Senator Domenici and the US Congress is truly sad.

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