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05/02/2007 12:00 AM     print story email story  

Breakthrough Agreement Announced with Appliance Industry on Efficiency News

Major home appliance manufacturers, their trade organization, and a nationwide coalition of energy and water efficiency supporters announced an historic agreement today that will establish new mandatory federal energy and water efficiency standards, recommendations for new ENERGY STAR levels, and manufacturer tax credits for the production of super-efficient clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, and dehumidifiers.

The agreement, which seeks legislation for appliance efficiency standards and tax credits, represents significant energy and water savings for U.S. consumers. According to an analysis conducted for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which supported the negotiations, the agreement will result in a savings of up to 3.3 quadrillion btus (quads) of energy and nearly 11 million acre feet (3.6 trillion gallons) of water over about 30 years - enough to meet the needs of about 44 million people for one year. Consumers will save up to $14.7 billion in cumulative utility bill reductions.

The agreement, when combined with additional appliance efficiency standards for refrigerators and clothes washers, could increase total 30-year savings to nearly 15 quads of energy and 68 million acre feet of water. The specific efficiency levels for refrigerators and clothes washers will be determined by DOE and will depend on cost-benefit and other analyses.

Total cumulative utility bill savings could be as high as $68 billion. (68 million acre feet would meet the annual water needs of about 272 million people; 3.3 quads would meet one year's energy needs for about 70 percent of the U.S. population.)

Key features of the agreement include:

" The first-ever national minimum water efficiency standards for residential clothes washers and dishwashers.

" Required DOE rulemakings to determine new minimum efficiency standards for refrigerators and clothes washers; they must be completed no later than December 31, 2010 and December 31, 2011, respectively.

" Aggressive production tax credits to spur market share growth for the most energy-efficient refrigerators, residential and commercial clothes washers, residential dishwashers, and dehumidifiers.

" Recommendations for revised ENERGY STAR levels, including water efficiency for residential and commercial clothes washers and dishwashers. "This accord represents a landmark consensus agreement between industry and energy and water advocates to increase the energy and water efficiency of many home appliance products. Through stringent new mandatory federal efficiency standards and tax credits that will incentivize manufacturers to produce super-efficient products, this agreement will help transform the market for efficient home appliances and have a lasting effect on national energy and water use. It also affirms the importance of a federal role in regulating the energy and water use of appliance products," said Joseph M. McGuire, president, Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

"This agreement shows how to move energy policy forward in this country," said David B. Goldstein, NRDC Energy Program director. The nation needs:

" Minimum standards to assure consumers are protected from high energy costs and that unnecessary greenhouse gas pollution is not emitted;

" Expanded use of the ENERGY STAR program, which shows consumers how they can do better than minimum standards; and

" Tax incentives to commercialize the most advanced technologies.

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