Attorney General Lockyer Announces Agreement With DOE to Improve Energy Efficiency in Common Appliances

Modern Technology Will Bring Energy Savings, Reduce Dependency on Foreign Oil

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Contact: (415) 703-5837,

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced an agreement under which the federal Department of Energy (DOE) will set new standards to sharply increase the energy efficiency of many types of household appliances, such as home ranges and ovens, air conditioners and dishwashers.

“Energy efficient appliances not only protect our environment and our pocketbooks, they can help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said Lockyer. “I am pleased the Department of Energy has agreed to move forward on requiring new appliances to embrace energy efficiency technologies.”

The agreement settles a federal lawsuit filed by California and a coalition of states and public interest groups against DOE for stalling energy-saving standards for appliances that use large amounts of electricity, natural gas and oil.

According to DOE’s own estimates, the standards covered by the agreement may reduce energy use by as much as 35 quadrillion BTUs over an approximately 30-year period. By comparison, all US households combined consumed 21 quadrillion BTUs of energy in 2004. The standards also have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gases, and annual carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by as much as 103 million metric tons a year. This is the equivalent of eliminating emissions from over 18 million cars and light trucks from America’s roads.

In the 1980's, Congress directed the DOE to periodically update existing efficiency standards for a wide range of consumer products under specific deadlines. The energy department has consistently failed in this regard and is as much as 14 years late in developing standards for some products. In September 2005, after attempting to resolve the delays, the coalition sued in an effort to compel DOE to catch up on the lapsed deadlines. The lawsuit sought a binding schedule for the overdue standards, which is what the settlement agreement announced today provides.

The use of energy efficient appliances reduces air pollution, global warming, and other environmental problems associated with the generation of electricity, while also saving money for residential and commercial consumers. Increased energy efficiency also improves the reliability of the electric grid.

The agreement was signed by United States District Court Judge John E. Sprizzo of the Southern District of New York.

Attorneys General from the following states joined California in the lawsuit: Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. Other parties in the case included the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the California Energy Commission, the City of New York, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants and the Texas Ratepayers Organization to Save Energy.

The federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act directs the DOE to periodically review and strengthen efficiency standards for a wide range of household and commercial products, including furnaces, water heaters, clothes washers, dryers, air conditioners, dishwashers, heat pumps, motors, ranges, ovens, motors and lamps.

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