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EISA Update: DOE Preparing to Overturn General Service Lamps Final Rule

image credit: Franklin Energy
Matt Bowgren's picture
Manager of Retail Products Strategy, Franklin Energy

Having spent time working across residential lighting and appliance, commercial and industrial gas, and industrial electric programs, I find myself drawn universally to improving the customer...

  • Member since 2019
  • 36 items added with 14,526 views
  • Apr 8, 2021

For anyone involved in energy efficiency programs, this is big. Most halogen bulbs may soon disappear from store shelves due to moving forward with a 45 lumen per watt (LPW) minimum efficiency standard that has been on the back burner due to Final Rules issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) during the former President Trump's administration. A series of three events has made it quite clear that the DOE, under the the President Biden administration, intends to readdress several of those rules related to the the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). In particular, General Service Lamps (GSLs) appears to be first up.

First, the DOE issued a memo in response to President Biden's Executive Order No. 13,990 which directed the heads of all agencies to "immediately review all existing regulations. . . issued . . . between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021, that. . . may be inconsistent with, or present obstacles to” the environmental goals stated in that executive order. The memo (Energy Central: eere_eo13990_memo_1.pdf) provides a list of 13 rulings for immediate review, including:

10. "Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for General Service Incandescent Lamps," 84 Fed. Reg. 71626 (December 27, 2019).

12. "Energy Conservation Program: Definition for General Service Lamps," 84 Fed. Reg. 46661 (September 5, 2019).

Second, as a result of that memo, the DOE took action in the litigation I've previously written about, Dockets 19-3652 and 19-3658, by filing a motion (Energy Central: 16-3652_motion_to_hold_in_abeyance_for_review.pdf) to hold these cases in abeyance for 60 days (basically to pause proceedings). They specifically cited the DOE memo as the reason for the motion in order to allow the DOE sufficient time to conduct its review of the rulings being challenged.

Finally, the Semiannual Regulatory Agenda was posted last week (Federal Register: 2021-05662.pdf) and the first item on the agenda is Energy Conservation Standards for GSLs. This is not the statutory rulemaking, but a special addition to the agenda. The abstract for this item states "The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will issue a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that includes a proposed determination with respect to whether to amend or adopt standards for general service light-emitting diode (LED) lamps and that may include a proposed determination with respect to whether to amend or adopt standards for compact fluorescent lamps."

Put these things together and what do you get? It's likely that the DOE plans to suspend, revise, or rescind the previous agency actions. Given that these regulations always need to have predictable timelines for implementation in order to account for the economic impacts on industry, it's most likely that the first step would be to rescind the previous Final Rule and then issue a new Proposed Rule with a comment period, followed by a new Final Rule with a comment period, and the Final Rule would include a new timeline for enforcement. Based on the speed of things happening right now and with GSLs as the first agenda item, we may see a new Final Rule yet this year. Regardless, manufacturers and retailers will definitely request 1-2 years for sell-through and manufacturing line changes during the comment period, so it could still be 2023 before we see the 45 LPW minimum standard go into effect.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 8, 2021

Makes me so happy to see all the different household products / appliances listed in these documents that will get their overdue re-review. These measures save customers millions in unnecessary energy costs

Matt Bowgren's picture
Matt Bowgren on Apr 10, 2021

Hi Matt - always appreciate your comments. The DOE is also publishing a new proposed rule on Monday to redact several sections of the previous final rule on the procedures for rulemaking. Specifically, they will be undoing the definition of "Significant energy savings" I wrote about previously: Here is a quote from the new proposed rule "DOE proposes to eliminate the current threshold for determining significant conservation of energy and to revert to its prior practice of making such determinations on a case-by-case basis". The interesting thing about this is that they may have to delay their re-reviews until this Proposed Rule becomes a Final Rule, otherwise they'll still have to follow the guidelines established by the previous Final Rule in determining whether or not to amend a standard. Stay tuned, it's getting exciting!

Matt Karber's picture
Matt Karber on Apr 26, 2021

Mr. Bowgren, thank you for the article. In the last few years, I have worked at both a major home improvement store and an LED lighting installation company. It appears that LED is largely taking over as the dominant technology in the lighting space. The only possibilities that I see for exceptions to Energy Policy Act lighting efficiency standards are bulbs for ovens and microwaves, which have internal environments that are not conducive to the operation of LEDs. In the majority of other lighting applications, LED products exist that perform very well and save end-users a lot of money. Of course, it is also less costly for lighting manufacturers to make many varieties of one lighting technology, rather than many different technologies. 

Matt Bowgren's picture
Thank Matt for the Post!
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