The Department of Energy (DOE) conducted a formal effort between 1995 and 1996 to improve the process it used to develop appliance efficiency standards. This effort involved many different stakeholders, including manufacturers, energy-efficiency advocates, trade associations, state agencies, utilities, and other interested parties. The result was the publication of the Process Rule: 61 FR 36974 (July 15, 1996).

Found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 10 CFR 430 Appendix A to Subpart C, the Process Rule describes the procedures, interpretations, and policies that guide DOE in establishing new or revised energy-efficiency standards for consumer products. Elements of the Process Rule have been superseded or supplemented by more recent practices described elsewhere on this website or in other notices issued by DOE.

In November 2010, DOE announced that it would, in appropriate cases, implement the following changes to expedite its rulemaking process:

  • Employing more efficient data-gathering methods;
  • Moving analytical information to the technical support document; and
  • Establishing a standing negotiated rulemaking committee.

On February 13, 2019 DOE published a Federal Register proposed rule to streamline and modernize the so-called “Process Rule.” The proposal would substantially improve the agency’s process for setting energy-efficiency standards and test procedures for residential appliances and commercial equipment, enhancing transparency, accountability, and regulatory certainty for stakeholders.

On July 26, 2019, DOE published a Federal Register notice of data availability (NODA) pertaining to the Process Rule announcing data availability regarding national energy savings estimates in past DOE energy conservation standards rulemakings. These data will help inform DOE’s decision-making process as it considers whether to establish a significant energy savings threshold for setting energy conservation standards for consumer products and commercial and industrial equipment.

On February 14, 2020, DOE published a Federal Register final rule updating and streamlining aspects of the Department’s current rule making process under the Appliance Standards Program.

  • Click here to view the OIRA compare document.

On February 14, 2020, DOE published a proposed rule that would clarify the procedures used to evaluate the economic justification of new or amended energy conservation standards. DOE is also seeking public comment on a proposal to amend the so-called “walk-down” process for evaluating new or amended energy conservation standard levels.

On August 19, 2020, DOE published a notice proposing to conduct a comparative analysis of the relative costs and benefits of proposed energy conservation standard levels, which would help DOE make a reliable determination that the chosen energy conservation standard level is economically justified. The Department is taking this step in response to comments on the Process Rule proposal. The “walk-down” process contained in the final Process Rule will remain as it has been while the public considers this new proposal, provides comments, and DOE determines how to proceed in response.

  • Click here to view the OIRA compare document.
  • Click here to view the OIRA redline version of the Process Rule.

On February 19, 2021, DOE published a Federal Register notice initiating an effort to elicit information from stakeholders and the interested public concerning the prioritization of rulemakings pursuant to the Department's rulemaking methodology titled, “Procedures, Interpretations, and Policies for Consideration of New or Revised Energy Conservation Standards and Test Procedures for Consumer Products and Commercial/Industrial Equipment” (Process Rule). DOE welcomes written comments as well as the submission of data and other relevant information.

On April 12, 2021, DOE published a Federal Register notice proposing to revise the Department’s “Procedures, Interpretations, and Policies for Consideration of New or Revised Energy Conservation Standards and Test Procedures for Consumer Products and Certain Commercial/Industrial Equipment” (Process Rule), revising the process the Department follows to develop energy conservation standards and test procedures for covered products and equipment. The proposed revisions are consistent with longstanding DOE practice and would remove unnecessary obstacles to DOE’s ability to meet its statutory obligations under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).

On July 7, 2021, DOE published a Federal Register notice proposing revisions to DOE's “Procedures, Interpretations, and Policies for Consideration of New or Revised Energy Conservation Standards and Test Procedures for Consumer Products and Certain Commercial/Industrial Equipment” (Process Rule) and requests comment on the proposals and any potential alternatives. A separate notice of proposed rulemaking on the Process Rule was published on April 12, 2021 and DOE accepted comments on those proposed revisions through May 27, 2021.  This is a second proposal in the two-part revision process.  These  proposed revisions are consistent with current DOE practice and would remove unnecessary obstacles to DOE’s ability to meet its statutory obligations under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). Proposed process revisions in this notice include the following topic areas: coverage determination rulemakings; clarification of EPCA’s rulemaking process for ASHRAE equipment; and clarification of DOE’s analytical methods.

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