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Washington, DC - Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced three new steps to strengthen its ability to enforce energy efficiency standards. These new steps are part of the Department's ongoing effort to save energy for American consumers and businesses by clearing the backlog of energy efficiency standards for appliances and aggressively enforcing energy efficiency standards. This summer, as part of its tougher enforcement efforts under the new Administration, DOE initiated investigations of alleged violations against both an air conditioner manufacturer and a freezer manufacturer. Both investigations are expected to be concluded shortly.
While efficiency standards had faced significant delays in prior years, the Obama Administration has released five appliance efficiency standards ahead of deadlines. These five standards will save over 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide once in effect. Over the next 30 years, they will save Americans an estimated $250 - $300 billion.
The steps announced today include the formation of an enforcement team within the Office of the General Counsel. Second, the Department announced a program to randomly review manufacturers' compliance with DOE certification requirements. Finally, the Department issued guidance further detailing its energy efficiency enforcement regulations.
"For the sake of our environment and our economy, it's critical that we enforce our energy efficiency regulations," said Scott Blake Harris, General Counsel of the Department. "Strong enforcement of the rules will encourage compliance and keep manufacturers who break the law from having a competitive advantage over manufacturers who play by the rules."
In its new guidance on Energy Efficiency Enforcement Regulations, the Department confirms that under existing DOE regulations, DOE can take enforcement action and assess civil penalties if a manufacturer fails to properly certify a covered product and retain records. Specifically, the Department clarifies that any failure to certify covered products according to DOE's rules violates the Energy Policy Conservation Act of 1975 and DOE's regulations.
The new enforcement team, reporting to the General Counsel, is comprised of lawyers with extensive litigation and regulatory experience. As part of its increased enforcement efforts, the enforcement team will be initiating a compliance review of certification reports for covered consumer products. DOE will randomly select previously filed certification reports for review, request certification records as needed, and hold manufacturers accountable for failing to certify covered products according to DOE rules.