Coalition Applauds DOE Decision to Enforce New AC Efficiency Standards


April 2, 2004

Andrew deLaski, 617-363-9470

Boston, MA -- A coalition group today praised the U.S. Department of Energy's decision to accept and enforce a strong new energy efficiency standard for residential central air conditioners.

"We're very pleased that DOE has decided to move ahead with enforcement of this important standard," said Andrew deLaski, executive director, Appliance Standards Awareness Project, a coalition group. "This decision is a great victory for consumers and the environment."

The new standard, known as the SEER 13 standard is a 30% increase over the existing SEER 10 standard established in 1987 and which took effect in 1992. Based on analysis of U.S. DOE data by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the new standard will save consumers about $3.4 billion on their electric bills per year by 2020. Since air conditioners are the single largest contributor to power system demand on hot summer days, the standard will reduce the need to expand the power system and generation capacity. ACEEE estimates that between now and 2020 as many as 150 power plants at an average size of 300 megawatts each will be avoided. Running power plants less reduces pollution - as a result of this standard power plant carbon dioxide pollution will be cut by nearly 30 million metric tons per year by 2020.

"The new efficiency standard will cut peak electricity demand, making summertime brownouts and blackouts less likely, and reduce power plant consumption of natural gas. Saving natural gas is especially important now given the recent sky-high prices," said deLaski.

In January, a federal appeals court ruled that a lower standard promulgated in 2002 was invalid. Last month, the air conditioning industry dropped litigation that would have sought to overturn the SEER 13 standard. Today's announcement by DOE means the government will not seek any further legal review of the standard.

"With this important decision, DOE can now turn its undivided attention to the pending standards for commercial air conditioners, residential furnaces and boilers and distribution transformers," said deLaski. "These pending efficiency standards offer tremendous promise for helping to moderate our nation's growing demand for energy."

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The Appliance Standards Awareness Project is dedicated to increasing understanding of and support for national appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards. ASAP is sponsored by leading environmental groups, consumer groups and state government and utilities.