The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) is a consumer protection statute. The law mandates energy efficiency standards but also protects consumers from overreach by the Department of Energy (DOE). In the case of the proposed conservation standards for conventional cooking products, DOE is overreaching in multiple ways and violating EPCA. DOE should withdraw the proposed rule.
DOE’s proposed standards violate the “features” provision in EPCA. Congress has forbidden DOE from promulgating regulations which are likely to make unavailable product types or useful features in regulated products. In the case of gas cooking tops, DOE assembled a test sample with 21 gas cooking tops which include important features. DOE set the proposed standard so strictly that only a single gas cooking top out of 21 meets the standard. DOE has not tested (or has not disclosed to the public) any other gas cooking tops with the required features that meet the proposed standard. This is an obvious violation of EPCA.
But it gets worse. Our research suggests that the one gas cooking top that complies with DOE’s standard is no longer on the market. In other words, DOE is proposing a standard where zero products with important features meet DOE’s standard and are available for purchase. This is a facial violation of EPCA.
DOE’s proposed standard also violates the EPCA requirement that DOE’s energy conservation standards achieve a “significant savings of energy.” The average annual consumer savings under this rule would be $1.08 over the average life of the cooktops. This minuscule monetary savings is a direct result of minuscule energy savings and not a “significant savings of energy” as required by EPCA.
DOE needs to withdraw this rule.