Beginning with the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, Congress has enacted a series of laws establishing federal appliance and equipment standards and the Department of Energy's (DOE) authority to develop, amend, and implement standards. To implement these laws, the Appliance and Equipment Standards program manages the regulatory processes described below.
Standards Development and Revision
Standards for a given product may be mandated by Congress or established by DOE pursuant to statutory authority. Standards established by DOE are developed through a multi-step rulemaking process that includes public participation.
Test Procedure Development and Revision
Most standards rulemakings are accompanied by a concurrent test procedure rulemaking. Test procedures detail how manufacturers must test their products to certify that they comply with the applicable energy conservation standards. (42 U.S.C. 6293; 6314) DOE also uses the test procedures to determine compliance with the applicable standards. (42 U.S.C. 6295(s))
The Process Rule
DOE has published a Federal Register final rule establishing a procedure through which an interested party can, within a 45-day period after DOE posts certain rules establishing or amending an energy conservation standards, identify a possible error in such a rule and request that DOE correct the error before the rule is published in the Federal Register. DOE has also issued a statement regarding DOE's final rules for energy conservation standards subject to error correction.
Determinations and Coverage Rulemakings
DOE is authorized to establish standards for 19 covered consumer products and 11 types of covered commercial and industrial equipment. DOE can also determine that other products and equipment are covered if they meet certain criteria. ( 42 U.S.C. 6292; 6311-6312)
Test Procedure Waivers
Products covered by standards may change as manufacturers incorporate new features and designs, and test procedures may not accurately reflect actual energy use as a result of these changes. For this reason, DOE will consider petitions for waivers from test procedures. (10 CFR 430.27 (consumer products); 10 CFR 431.401 (commercial and industrial equipment).
On May 1, 2019, DOE published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) that would streamline the process for reviewing interim waivers. For further details, please see the NOPR here and answers to frequently asked questions here.
Implementation, Certification, and Enforcement
In addition to developing energy conservation standards and test procedures, DOE has issued regulations to assure the implementation, certification, and enforcement of energy conservation standards:
- 42 U.S.C. 6296(d) (certification reporting);
- 42 U.S.C. 6299, et. seq. and 6316 (enforcement of energy and water conservation standards); and
- 10 CFR Part 429, Subpart C (available enforcement actions for improper certification or noncompliance with an applicable standard)
Small Business Exemptions and Small Entity Compliance Guide
Manufacturers with annual gross revenues that do not exceed $8 million from all operations (including the manufacture and sale of covered products) for the 12-month period preceding the date of application may apply for a temporarily exemption from all or part of an energy conservation standard. (42 U.S.C. 6295(t)).
The Small Entity Compliance Guide seeks to help small entities comply with energy and water conservation standards and test procedures promulgated by the United States Department of Energy (DOE). This guidance document was prepared pursuant to Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA) (Pub. L. 104-121 as amended by Pub. L. 110-28).
State Petitions for Exemption from Federal Preemption
Federal energy conservation standards generally preempt state laws or regulations concerning energy conservation testing, labeling, and standards. However, DOE can grant waivers of federal preemption for particular state laws or regulations. (42 U.S.C. 6297)
DOE and FTC share responsibility for labeling. Generally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) prescribes labeling rules for residential products and DOE prescribes labeling rules for commercial and industrial equipment. (42 U.S.C. 6294; 6315)