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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  fluorescent lamp ballasts, compressors, certain water heating equipment, and commercial packaged boilers.

Fluorescent Lamp Ballasts
The DOE has issued a final rule to replace all instances of ballast efficacy factor with ballast luminous efficiency in its regulations concerning fluorescent lamps ballasts and add rounding instructions to the same section for ballast luminous efficiency and power factor. The agency is also clarifying the represented value instructions for power factor and amending Appendix Q to clarify the lamp ballast pairings for testing. The final rule changes will be mandatory for product testing starting on 28 June 2016.

Water Heating Equipment
The DOE is proposing to revise its test procedures for commercial water heaters, unfired hot water storage tanks and hot water supply boilers established under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. Specifically, the proposal would (i) update references of industry test standards to incorporate by reference the most recent versions of those standards; (ii) adopt modifications to the existing test methods for certain classes of commercial water heating equipment; (iii) develop new test procedures for determining the efficiency of unfired hot water storage tanks, commercial heat pump water heaters and flow-activated instantaneous water heaters; (iv) adopt clarifications on test set-up and settings for various classes of commercial water heating equipment; (v) revise the certification requirements for commercial water heating equipment; and (vi) adopt associated implementing regulations and definitions. The DOE will hold a meeting on this proposal on 6 June and will accept written comments and data by 8 July.

The DOE is proposing to prescribe new definitions, sampling provisions and test procedures for compressors. The proposed test procedure would provide instructions for determining the full-load package isentropic efficiency for certain fixed-speed compressors and the part-load package isentropic efficiency for certain variable-speed compressors based on test methods described in International Organisation for Standardisation Standard 1217:2009, “Displacement compressors—Acceptance tests.” The agency is also proposing certain modifications and additions to ISO 1217:2009 to increase the specificity of certain testing methods and improve the repeatability of tested and measured values. The DOE will hold a meeting on this proposal on 20 June and will accept written comments and data by 5 July.

Commercial Boilers
The DOE is extending from 23 May to 22 June the deadline for comments on a proposal to amend the mandatory energy efficiency standards for commercial packaged boilers. The agency has tentatively concluded that the proposed standards represent the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that is technologically feasible and economically justified and would save a significant amount of energy. In addition, equipment achieving the proposed standards is already commercially available for at least some, if not most, equipment classes covered by the proposal. If adopted, these standards would apply to all covered products manufactured in or imported into the United States on or after the date that is three years after the publication of a final rule.

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