(The Center Square) – The Washington Department of Commerce is considering updates to regulations that govern energy efficiency standards for certain appliances. While they expect federal rebates, officials don’t have estimates on whether the changes will increase costs to consumers.
Specifically, the agency is looking at revised standards for charging equipment used for electric vehicles and for residential ventilation fans and air purifiers. If adopted, the updated regulations are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2024.
The initiation of a rule-making process was announced last month. Any potential cost impacts to manufacturers, distributors, or retailers were not immediately specified and would be better addressed when draft rules are developed, said Nick Manning, rulemaking coordinator for Commerce’s energy division, on Wednesday.
Commerce is accepting public feedback and will host a public workshop after draft rules are released. Comments may be emailed at any time to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The agency said it has been encouraged by manufacturers and advocates to adopt new standards for both the electric vehicle charging equipment and ventilation fans after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued product specifications earlier this year for its EnergyStar program.
The program’s intent is to promote the manufacture of products which use less energy to get the same job done, thereby cutting costs and reducing pollution. Products with certified Energy Star ratings may qualify for rebates, special offers, and federal tax incentives.
For air purifiers, Washington had initially established its own efficiency standard, but that will be preempted by a federal standard adopted by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Language in the proposed regulations is varied and esoteric, likely to appeal more to engineers and technology wonks than the general populace.
For electric vehicles, the standards update primarily aims to improve the efficiency of the plugs, fittings, power outlets, cords, and other apparatus which transfer current from a charging system to the vehicle. Secondary functions may include “occupancy sensing” – that is, detection of a human or object in the vicinity of the EV supply equipment; communication between the charger and the vehicle; and “public access controls” such as the use of a credit card to communicate with a payment terminal.
State law establishes energy efficiency standards for multiple products sold or installed in Washington. The law also authorizes the Department of Commerce to adopt more recent versions of established standards to improve consistency with other states. In 2022, state lawmakers passed House Bill 1619 which pertains to appliance efficiency standards.
According to Commerce, the efficiency protocols are estimated to save Washington consumers and businesses $2 billion in energy and water costs.
The effective dates vary by product, but all are based on date of manufacture, not date of sale. Products already in stores or warehouses may be installed even after new standards take effect. The standards apply to manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and installers, rather than to individual consumers.