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Restarting Energy Efficiency Standards

February 05, 2021

The Biden administration recently held “Climate Day” to highlight a policy course change from the previous administration. The Executive Orders issued will have Department of Energy leadership review regulations governing energy efficiency standards. For energy efficiency program administrators, this review can have many significant impacts on the programs they operate. Initially, this review is in four different sections. Two of the reviews will implement (1) new procedures to new and revised conservation standards and (2) consider factors to use in creating these new standards and revised for both consumer and C&I equipment. The other two reviews will have a more direct impact on program design and implementation. The DOE will make final determinations to improvements in the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code and ASHRAE 90.1-2016. Additionally, DOE is directed to re-evaluate new product classes for clothes and dishwashers and an analysis of the EISA backstop.

To quickly summarize, these changes will potentially modify energy baselines for energy efficiency measures and require modifications to technical resource manuals. The proposed approvals for 2018 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2016 include improved U-factors for windows in zone 3 through 8 and increases the use of energy-efficient lighting to 90% of fixtures, up from 75%, which will impact savings from new construction projects. New standards for clothes and dishwashers may reverse an earlier rule approved in the previous administration's last months. In what may be the most significant change, the EISA rules could make LEDs the default standard for residential programs. While this may not impact those utilities who earlier implemented the EISA standards into their programs, many utilities rely on these residential LED lighting programs to achieve energy efficiency goals. The proposed timeline to complete these rules review is early summer 2021. While this year’s program offering will not be impacted, it certainly may for the 2022 portfolio.

For the remainder of 2021, any other energy efficiency initiatives from the Federal government will be limited to actions the agencies can take. Unless unexpected bipartisanship in Congress breaks out, I would not anticipate any significant federal legislation this year and possibly next year as well. While this will limit major policy shifts, it does allow federal energy standards to change with the market conditions.

Written by - Michael Stockard
Michael Stockard is an independent consultant at Stockard Energy Advising and is a member of the Advisory Panel at ANB Systems. Michael has over 39 years of experience in the design and implementation of demand-side management programs.

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