The Short History

Efficiency proponents have achieved sustained and accelerating improvements in appliance, equipment and lighting standards since the mid-1970s, with ASAP participating since its founding in 1999. This progress has been marked by multi-forum advocacy, shifting from federal rulemakings, to Congressional advocacy, to the courts, to the states and back again

The Longer History

ASAP was founded in 1999 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the Alliance to Save Energy, the Energy Foundation, and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The founding organizations had been involved in appliance standards work for many years, but recognized that a broader, more organized advocacy effort would more consistently yield better standards. They founded ASAP to spearhead this effort.

Initial Mission Focused on 4 National Standards

ASAP’s initial mission focused on winning four key new national standards during the final two years of the Clinton Administration. This effort proved very successful: the Department of Energy (DOE) completed strong new standards for central air conditioners, clothes washers, fluorescent ballasts and water heaters. The 2001 central air conditioner standard by itself will avoid the need for more than 150 new power plants.

Federal Inaction Spurred State Standards Action and Agreements with Industry

In 2001, the new leadership at DOE sought to roll back the air conditioner standard, and work on new standards ground to a near-halt. ASAP worked successfully to defend the air conditioner standard. The rollback was ruled illegal by a court decision in 2004. With reduced opportunities for new national standards via DOE rulemaking, ASAP focused attention on state standards, working to advance new standards in California and crafting model legislation for consideration in other states. This state-based effort led to new state standards programs in a dozen states by the middle of the last decade. It also led to negotiated agreements with industry for new national standards. Fifteen such negotiated standards were enacted by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and another ten were enacted in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, including first-ever standards for general service light bulbs.

Advocates and States Filed Lawsuit - DOE Required to Catch Up on Missed Deadlines

In 2004, NRDC and several states led by New York brought a lawsuit against DOE for its failure to meet statutory deadlines to update more than twenty-two standards. This lawsuit resulted in a consent decree signed in 2006 which committed DOE to catch up on all missed deadlines by June 30, 2011. The 2005 and 2007 energy laws also set new legal deadlines for DOE. As a result, ASAP’s work focused once again on the DOE standard-setting process.

DOE Back on Track

Since 2007 ASAP and our allies have led the pro-efficiency advocacy effort in every active DOE standards-setting process. These have covered more than 30 products and resulted in new or updated standards for more than 15 products. Notable successes include the 2009 fluorescent lamp standards which will save more energy than any other standard ever completed by DOE and multi-product negotiated agreements with industry groups that have yielded strong new standards for home heating and cooling products and many major household appliances.By the end of 2011, DOE had met all of deadlines required under the consent decree (with one product being granted a 120-day extension.)

Busy Pace Continues

DOE has kept up the busy pace, updating standards for products as required by law, adopting new and updated test procedures, and pursuing standards for products (including computers, pumps, and fans and blowers) as authorized by earlier laws. DOE has also opted for more negotiated rulemakings, sponsoring negotiations between stakeholders from industry, efficiency, consumer, utility and other interested groups. The President has set a goal to reduce carbon dioxide levels by 3 billion metric tons by 2030 through energy efficiency standards and is more than two-thirds of the way to the goal.