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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 uninterruptible power supplies, walk-in cooler and freezer components, portable air conditioners and commercial water heating equipment.

Power Supplies
The DOE is proposing new energy conservation standards for uninterruptible power supplies (a class of battery chargers) that, if adopted, would apply to all UPSs manufactured in or imported into the United States starting two years after the publication date of a final rule. 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 result in the significant conservation of energy. In addition, UPSs achieving the proposed standards are already commercially available for all covered products. However, the DOE notes that it could end up adopting standards that are either higher or lower than those proposed. The DOE will hold a public meeting on this proposal (which will also be broadcast as a webinar) on 16 September and will accept comments, data and information by 4 October.

Freezer Components
The DOE is seeking input by 17 October on a proposal to amend the energy test procedure for certain walk-in cooler and freezer components by improving the procedure’s clarity, updating related certification and enforcement provisions to address the performance-based energy conservation standards for walk-in cooler and freezer equipment, and establishing labelling requirements to aid manufacturers in determining which components would be considered for compliance purposes as intended for walk-in cooler and freezer applications. The proposed amendments consist of certain walk-in cooler and freezer refrigeration system-specific provisions, including product-specific definitions, removal of the test method for systems with hot gas defrost, and a method to accommodate refrigeration equipment with adaptive defrost and on-cycle variable-speed evaporator fan control. The DOE will hold a public meeting on this proposal on 12 September.

Portable Air Conditioners
The DOE has extended from 12 August to 26 September the deadline for submitting comments, data and information on a proposed rule to establish new energy conservation standards for portable air conditioners. If these standards are adopted they would apply to all single-duct and dual-duct portable air conditioners manufactured in or imported into the United States starting five years after the publication of a final rule.

The DOE has tentatively concluded that the proposed standards represent the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that is technologically feasible and economically justified and would result in the significant conservation of energy. In addition, portable air conditioners achieving the proposed standards are already commercially available for all covered products. However, the agency has said that it could end up adopting standards that are either higher or lower than those proposed.

Water Heaters
The DOE is giving interested parties additional time (until 30 August) to submit input on a proposal to amend the energy conservation standards for several classes of commercial water heating equipment. The DOE is not currently considering more stringent standards for commercial oil-fired storage water heaters, whose standards were recently amended.

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