President Barack Obama says addressing climate change is smart economic policy as well as a moral imperative, but his administration keeps delaying stronger appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards.
These standards are among the most successful ways to quickly cut energy consumption and contribute to economic growth. They create hundreds of thousands of jobs and save billions of dollars on utility bills across the economy.
In 2010, existing standards cut U.S. electricity use 7 percent, and that will rise to 14 percent by 2035 as people buy the new products. It also created 340,000 jobs. Upgrading and adding new standards would shave another 7 percent off electricity use by 2035.
Over the past two years, the administration has missed deadline after deadline for completing new or updated standards for products ranging from microwave ovens to commercial refrigerators to industrial motors. These delays impose a steep cost.
Eight standards are currently held up, costing individuals and businesses $3.7 billion and 40 million metric tons of excess carbon emissions, according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project and American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
In fact, every month of delay adds another $300 million in lost savings and another 4.4 million metrics tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of burning 19,000 rail cars of coal.
Raising efficiency standards also spurs innovation as manufacturers compete to introduce the most advanced equipment at the lowest cost. Delays in issuing standards compound over time because it takes a long time for manufacturers to develop new products.
Here are the standards that are delayed, along with the cost in both lost savings and additional carbon emissions:
- Microwave ovens (20 months overdue): $276 million in lost savings, 2.1 million metric tons of carbon (mmt)
- External power supplies (19 months): $370 million, 4.2 mmt
- ER, BR and small diameter reflector lamps (21 months): $1.05 billion, 7.7 mmt
- Walk-in coolers and freezers (16 months): $1.1 billion, 10.3 mmt
- Metal halide lamps (16 months): $261 million, 3.2 mmt
- Distribution transformers (4 months): $347 million, 6.1 mmt
- Electric motors (4 months): $202 million, 4.2 mmt
- Commercial refrigeration equipment (4 months): $92 million, 1.2 mmt
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