Air con provides Congress with energy efficiency opportunity

Energy industry insiders have formed an agreement which, if adopted by Congress, will save the need for 25 new power plants, a US organisation has announced.

Current federal standards, established in 1992, require that the most common types of equipment, such as air conditioners and heat pumps, have an energy efficiency ratio (EER) of 8.9.

But under the new agreement devised by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), standards for the most common units will rise to 11.2 EER as of the beginning of 2010, improving energy efficiency by 26%.

"This agreement represents a win for the environment, for consumers and for manufacturers," William Sutton, president of ARI stated. "The agreement give producers regulatory certainty to develop new models for 2010 that will meet both the new efficiency standards and EPA regulations to phase out the use of HCFC refrigerants that can deplete the ozone layer."

The agreement will produce peak power needs of about 7,400 MW by 2020, according to the ACEEE, which is the equivalent to the output of 25 new power plants of 300 MW each.

Building owners would also see net benefits of around $2.4 billion as a result of the agreement, according to the same analysis, on considering the value of the energy savings and subtracting the moderate additional cost of the improved equipment.

The executive director of ACEEE, Steven Nadel said that he hoped and anticipated that additional produce efficiency standards would be negotiated in the future.

"Appliance efficiency standards have been one of the most effective energy saving policies in the US," he explained, "with the majority of standards developed through consensus negotiations."

The agreement has been provided to both the US Department of Energy (DOE) and members of Congress. Many aspects of the agreement could be adopted by the DOE, but some aspects would require Congressional action.

Acting Under Secretary for the DOE, David Garman said that Congress welcomed the suggestions for improved energy efficiency.

"We will give serious consideration to the approach supported by these parties as we review and evaluate all of the comments that are submitted to DOE on the notice of proposed rulemaking," Mr Garman said.

By Jane Kettle



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