In 2007, the new Congress put energy legislation high on its agenda, with final legislation passing just before Christmas, 2007. The new legislation emphasizes energy efficiency and was driven by high energy prices, growing concerns about global warming, and a change in leadership in the House and Senate after the 2006 elections. This new law was enacted only two years after Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Click here for more information on the 2005 law).
Major efficiency provisions in the new 2007 law are as follows:
- Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards. The legislation calls for a 35 mpg CAFE standard for cars and light trucks by 2020, with “maximum feasible” increases beyond this date. The provision also sets in motion the first fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks. The final bill also gradually phases out extra fuel economy credits for dual fuel vehicles, with the credits ending in 2020.
- Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards. The new law contains many provisions setting new minimum efficiency standards based on consensus agreements between industry and ACEEE. Products for which standards are set include:
- Appliances: dishwashers and dehumidifiers (updates to current federal standard)
- Residential boilers (update to current federal standard)
- Electric motors (updates current standards and enacts new standards on many special- and definite-purpose motors as well as motors of 201-400 horsepower) See ACEEE's 2007 report on this provision
- Incandescent reflector lamps: applies 1992 standards to BR, ER and R20 lamps (categories previously exempted from 1992 law)
- External power supplies (federalizes standard adopted by California and other states)
- Metal halide lamp fixtures (based on standard adopted by California and other states)
- Walk-in coolers and freezers (based on California, Rhode Island and Maryland standards)
In addition, the law directs DOE to conduct new rulemakings on residential refrigerators and clothes washers, on standby power use of currently regulated appliances, and to revise all standards and test procedures on a regular schedule. The bill also allows DOE to expedite rulemakings in response to broad consensus agreements on recommended new standards.
- Lamp Efficiency Standards. The bill sets lamp efficiency standards for common light bulbs, requiring them to use about 20-30% less energy than present incandescent bulbs by 2012-2014 (phasing in over several years) and requiring a DOE rulemaking to set standards that will reduce energy use to no more than about 65% of current lamp use by 2020. The initial targets can be met by advanced incandescent lamps the major manufacturers are just introducing to the market using halogen capsules with infrared reflective coatings. The longer-term targets will likely be met by compact fluorescent lamps and other advanced technologies such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and very advanced incandescent lamps now in development.
- Regional Standards. The legislation allows DOE to set up to one regional standard for heating products and two regional standards for cooling products, in addition to the main national standard. The intent is to better accommodate the range of climatic conditions across the U.S. The provision only allows regional standards if economically justified, including consideration of economic impacts on manufacturers, distributors and contractors.
- Industrial Efficiency Programs. The bill updates the authorization for DOE's industrial program to reflect challenges facing U.S. manufacturing. In particular, the bill addresses the need to develop new manufacturing processes and the ability to make use of alternative feed stocks in response to the increasing cost and scarcity of energy resources.
- Combined Heat and Power, Recycled Energy and District Energy. The bill contains important new provisions that promote combined heat and power (CHP), recycled energy and district energy systems. Provisions:
- Direct the quantification of the potential for recycled energy
- Authorize the expansion of Regional CHP Assistance Centers
- Encourage the rationalization of utility grid access for CHP and recycled energy systems
- Authorize a new generation of energy efficiency programs for public buildings with funding through a grant program for construction of infrastructure including CHP, recycled energy and district energy systems.
- Commercial Building Initiative. Provision authorizes a Commercial Building Initiative (CBI) combining research, development, and deployment, to be run by DOE with input from an industry consortium. The goal of the initiative is for all new commercial buildings to use zero energy on net by 2030 (i.e. they produce as much energy as they use) and all existing buildings to meet the same goal by 2050. The provision authorizes substantial funding but it's unclear how much funding the program will get through the Congressional appropriations process.
Several additional provisions were enacted by the House or Senate but did not make it into the new law. Click here for more information on these provisions, many of which are likely to be considered by Congress in the future.