Annapolis to Washington: Catch Us If You Can on Efficiency Standards

January 20, 2004


WASHINGTON, D.C. — With today's General Assembly vote to override Governor Ehrlich's veto of the 2003 energy efficiency standards bill, Maryland became the latest state to institute such standards for home appliances and other energy-using equipment. State action on standards, dating back to the 1980s, has been a key factor in accelerating federal action on this issue.


"What Maryland has done today may reach far beyond its borders. It encourages other states to take similar action, and pushes Congress and product manufacturers to come to consensus at the national level," said ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel.


While national standards were authorized in energy legislation of the 1970s, their implementation was delayed by opposition from the Reagan Administration. It was only after states like California, Florida, and New York set their own standards that Congress enacted the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) in 1987. Since then, states have continued to set standards for products not covered by NAECA.


The precedent set in Maryland could create savings much larger than those realized within the state. While the benefits that will result from the Maryland standards are large (400 megawatts worth of power plant capacity and $600 million in energy savings through 2020, according to ACEEE), they would be much larger if implemented at the national level (estimated by ACEEE at 16,500 megawatts of power plant capacity and $27 billion in energy savings through 2020).


The products covered by the bill include (1) torchiere lighting fixtures, (2) ceiling fans, (3) low-voltage dry-type transformers, (4) commercial refrigerators and freezers, (5) traffic signal modules, (6) illuminated exit signs, (7) large packaged air-conditioning equipment, (8) unit heaters, and (9) commercial clothes washers. Five of these standards are included in the energy bill pending in Congress. However, the bill's passage is uncertain, and about half of the Maryland savings comes from the remaining four products (ceiling fans, commercial refrigerators, large packaged air-conditioning equipment, and commercial clothes washers) for which specific standards are not set in the federal bill.


For information on state opportunities for appliance standards, contact the Appliance Standards Awareness Project at 617-363-9470 or www.standardsasap.org. ACEEE recently produced a report on the savings potential of state standards; it can be downloaded for free at http://aceee.org/pubs/a016full.pdf.


Maryland's action on efficiency standards is just one example of states showing leadership on energy efficiency policies. States have also been leaders on building energy codes, utility efficiency programs, and other policies and programs. ACEEE's 2003 report, Energy Efficiency's Next Generation, documents leading examples of state energy efficiency policy innovation. It can be downloaded for free at http://www.aceee.org/pubs/e031full.pdf.