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Update on Recent Department of Energy Rulemaking Activities

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced the following regulatory actions of potential interest to Hong Kong and mainland Chinese exporters of portable air conditioners, certain lamps, direct heating equipment, circulator pumps and dedicated purpose pool pumps.

Portable Air Conditioners
The DOE has made a final determination that portable air conditioners qualify as a covered product under Part A of Title III of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. This determination sets no energy conservation standards for this product but only establishes that future standards may be warranted and should be explored in a rulemaking.

Portable ACs are movable units typically designed to provide 8,000-14,000 Btu/hr of cooling capacity for a single room. In contrast to room ACs, portable ACs are not permanently installed on the wall or in a window. In this rule the DOE is defining portable ACs as a portable encased assembly other than a packaged terminal air conditioner, room air conditioner or dehumidifier that delivers cooled, conditioned air to an enclosed space and is powered by single-phase electric current. It includes a source of refrigeration and may include additional means for air circulation and heating.

Certain Lamps
The DOE is informing the public of its collection of shipment data and creation of spreadsheet models to provide comparisons between actual and benchmark estimate unit sales of five lamp types (i.e., rough service lamps, vibration service lamps, 3-way incandescent lamps, 2,601–3,300 lumen general service incandescent lamps and shatter-resistant lamps) that are currently not subject to mandatory energy conservation standards. As the actual sales are not greater than 200 percent of the forecasted estimate for 2015 (i.e., the threshold triggering a rulemaking for an energy conservation standard) for four of these lamp types (all types except vibration service lamps), the DOE has determined that no regulatory action pertaining to such lamps is necessary at this time. However, the agency will continue to track sales data for these exempted lamps.

Since the actual unit sales for vibration service lamps are 272.5 percent of the benchmark unit sales estimate, an accelerated energy conservation standard rulemaking for these lamps must be completed by 31 December 2016. Relating to this activity, the DOE has prepared and is making available on its website a spreadsheet showing the comparisons of anticipated versus actual sales as well as the model used to generate the original sales estimates.

Direct Heating Equipment
The DOE is seeking comments, data and information by 10 June on a tentative determination that the current energy efficiency standards for direct heating equipment should not be amended because more stringent standards would not be economically justified. The agency has tentatively determined that the market characteristics for direct heating equipment are largely similar to those analysed in the previous rulemaking and the technologies available for improving the energy efficiency of these products have not advanced significantly.

Circulator Pumps
The DOE has announced that the circulator pumps working group will hold public meetings and webinars on these dates: 4 May, 5 May, 16 June, 17 June, 12 July, 13 July, 10 August, 11 August, 7 September, 8 September and 28 September. The purpose of the working group is to discuss and, if possible, reach consensus regarding definitions, test procedures and energy conservation standards to form the basis of proposed energy conservation standards and test procedures for circulator pumps. The working group consists of representatives of parties having a defined stake in the outcome of the proposed standards and will consult as appropriate with a range of experts on technical issues. The working group is expected to make a concerted effort to negotiate a final term sheet by 30 September.

Pool Pumps
The dedicated purpose pool pumps working group will hold public meetings and webinars on 18 May, 19 May, 22 June and 23 June to discuss potential energy conservation standards for these products.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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