Key Takeaways

  1. In 2023, the Department of Energy is likely to increase enforcement of its energy and water conservation standards.
  2. The penalties associated with violating energy and water conservation standards can exceed $500 per violation and result in multi-million-dollar penalties.
  3. Manufacturers and importers of appliances and other consumer and industrial products can mitigate enforcement risk by refamiliarizing themselves with the energy and water efficiency regime and conducting internal compliance audits.

As the Biden Administration enters its third year, now with a party split in Congress, it seems likely that the Administration will redouble its focus on executive branch regulatory tools that can be used to achieve energy-related policy objectives, including with respect to energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions. For manufacturers and importers of appliances and certain other consumer, lighting, plumbing and commercial and industrial products, that means the potential for additional scrutiny of their products’ compliance with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) conservation standards for energy and water efficiency. It also likely means a commensurate increase in DOE enforcement activity for non-compliance with the applicable efficiency standards or the associated test procedures required to demonstrate compliance, as well as registration and labeling requirements. Given the magnitude of the penalties associated with violating efficiency standards, currently $503 per violation, which can quickly run into multiple millions of dollars across noncompliant units, manufacturers and importers should consider refamiliarizing themselves with DOE’s conservation standards regime.

Continue Reading Appliance Manufacturers and Importers Should Prepare for Increased DOE Enforcement Activity in 2023

The Biden Administration has promised an across-the-government effort to combat climate change, consistent with policy priorities during the Obama Administration. While much speculation has focused on a climate infrastructure package or a possible revamp of the Clean Power Plan, appliance manufacturers should be prepared for a less publicized but similarly significant change in direction from the current administration: increased enforcement under the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) appliance standards program.

Background

The DOE administers the appliance standards program under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), which includes setting mandatory appliance energy and water efficiency standards for over 60 covered products, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, vacuums, and battery chargers. Each appliance standard has two components: a conservation standard and an associated testing procedure through which the manufacturer demonstrates compliance with the applicable standard.

Although this program has existed since the 1980s, the Obama Administration was the first to explicitly include goals for greenhouse gas emission reductions as a component of the standards-setting process. Over the course of 8 years, DOE issued new and updated conservation standards for numerous products, and DOE’s Office of Enforcement investigated and issued monetary penalties to companies failing to comply with updated standards incorporating these emission reduction goals. The Trump Administration, by comparison, has not directly incorporated these greenhouse gas-related factors into the rulemaking process, and has been comparatively less active in updating standards in general. The Trump Administration also has pursued fewer enforcement actions on the whole – and appears to have sought smaller penalties – relative to the Obama Administration.
Continue Reading Appliance Manufacturers Should Prepare for Increased DOE Enforcement Activity

On Monday, more than a dozen states and major environmental and consumer organizations issued notices of intent (available here and here) to sue the Department of Energy (DOE) for alleged violations of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).

As discussed in previous client alerts, DOE administers EPCA by setting mandatory appliance efficiency standards or conservation standards for over 60 covered products. Under the law, DOE is required to reexamine the standards for each product at least once every six years, and must update the standards for certain products by specific deadlines.

Continue Reading States and Major Environmental and Consumer Organizations Threaten to Sue the Department of Energy Over Alleged Delays in Issuing Energy Efficiency Standards

Manufacturers of battery chargers or external power supplies (EPSs), or sellers of consumer products that include battery chargers or EPSs, are likely subject to strict energy conservation standards. By virtue of Department of Energy (DOE) regulations that took effect in February 2016 and June 2018 for EPSs and battery chargers, respectively, manufacturers and importers of