This piece was originally published in the October 2017 issue of electroindustry.
Alex Boesenberg, Senior Manager, Government Relations, NEMA
To say it has been an interesting year in the regulatory world is an understatement. This update focuses on the agencies with whom we frequently engage: the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the California Energy Commission (CEC).
Department of Energy
After a pause in regulatory activity, the DOE resumed numerous rulemaking proceedings and started several new ones. Many of the regulations under the DOE’s purview have mandatory review and update requirements set by Congress. The DOE released a semiannual regulatory agenda in July that mentions standards or test procedures for many NEMA products, including electric motors, distribution transformers, several lighting products, and battery chargers.
Hampered by slow approvals of political appointees, the DOE has no new policymakers and no new policies to act on. Furthermore, while the new DOE leadership is researching ways to approach regulations using market-based considerations, there have been no formal publications or notices.
NEMA and other trade associations would like to influence how the department handles regulatory reviews. In the past, DOE activities seemed to have been predicated on the assumption that elevated standards or expanded product scopes were always justifiable. We disagree. We encourage DOE leadership to set policies and processes that identify where and how a determination to revise a standard can be justified.
ENERGY STAR® for UPS
Despite early recommendations to defund it, the ENERGY STAR program continues to update and revise program guidance and specifications. It has been quiet for NEMA products, with several updates to lighting programs already underway or completed by the end of 2016. The program for uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) is due for an update, but the DOE rulemaking for UPS standards is not finished, so the EPA is waiting for that conclusion to know where the national minimum energy conservation standards level will be set.
The EPA continues to encourage participation in a pilot program for ENERGY STAR distribution transformers. NEMA continues to oppose the program. We believe that it will increase the cost of already expensive products without guaranteed energy savings as a result of the high variability of field conditions versus the static assumptions of the energy savings models used to justify the program.
California Energy Commission
The CEC has been making steady progress on its energy regulations for Title 20 (appliances) and Title 24 (buildings). NEMA has been involved in the revisions to Title 24 since last year. Rulemaking proceedings are expected to resume this year. Title 20 is in an open rulemaking mode for administrative updates. An energy-saving rulemaking cycle will begin in 2018.
NEMA lobbyists continue to work with allied trade associations to push for legislation that will reform the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and in so doing declutter and streamline the regulatory process for several agencies, DOE included.