With Congress about to confirm Ernie Moniz as the nation’s new energy secretary, it’s a good time to take a look back on what his predecessor, Steven Chu, accomplished with new appliance, equipment and lighting efficiency standards. In brief, he accomplished a lot. But not as much as he might have if he’d had better backing from the White House. Let’s start with the hard numbers. Taking into account products sold between now and 2035, new efficiency standards adopted during Chu’s four-year stint will net U.S. consumers and businesses more than $100 billion in savings.
Note: Since this blog post was published, the Obama administration has eliminated the backlog of delayed standards, issuing new standards for the 8 products referenced in the post.
In his Inaugural Speech last week, President Obama described action to limit climate change as both a moral imperative and smart economic policy. Calling for American leadership, he said, “We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.”
In a dose of bad news yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposed to settle a lawsuit brought by the American Public Gas Association (APGA) that seeks to roll back gas furnace efficiency standards. As a result, the new standards, completed in 2011 and slated to take effect this May, would be eliminated in favor of yet another round of DOE hearings and studies. The losers: consumers and the environment.