ENERGY EFFICIENCY

DOE steams ahead with third appliance standard in Obama's 'year of action'

The Energy Department today rolled out new energy efficiency standards to make commercial refrigeration equipment in grocery and convenience stores about 30 percent more efficient -- providing another bump for President Obama's Climate Action Plan.

This is the third appliance standard DOE has announced since Obama's State of the Union address a month ago, in which he pledged to use his executive power to forward his agenda, including cutting U.S. energy use, as part of his strategy to mitigate climate change. DOE published final efficiency standards for external power supplies and floodlights about a month ago (E&ENews PM, Feb. 3).

Three other proposed appliance efficiency regulations, which were published last fall, are queued up for finalization soon: furnace fans, walk-in coolers and freezers, and electric motors.

The new commercial refrigeration rules update standards from 2009 and will save businesses up to $11.7 billion on their energy bills over the next three decades, DOE said. The rules will take effect in 2017.

The standards will cut carbon emissions by about 142 million metric tons, which brings the total carbon emissions savings from efficiency rules finalized under the Obama administration to 1.9 billion metric tons through 2030, according to DOE. The administration's goal is to reach 3 billion metric tons saved.

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"In our supermarkets and grocery stores, refrigeration can use almost 40 percent of total energy use -- contributing a large portion of these businesses' utility bills," Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement. "By improving the energy efficiency of commercial refrigeration equipment -- like restaurant-size fridges or the deli case at your local grocery store -- we can make our businesses more competitive, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money."

The Appliance Standards Awareness Project welcomed the new rules -- which are more than a year late --saying in a statement that much of the energy reduction is possible through new LED lighting and occupancy sensors, high-performance glass doors and high-efficiency motors, which all provide big efficiency gains. Companies could capture even more efficiency if they add doors to open refrigerator cases, ASAP added, although that was not included in today's rule.

"These strong new efficiency standards will take a big bite out of the energy use of supermarket and restaurant refrigerators," ASAP Executive Director Andrew deLaski said.

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