Comments Please by September 2nd on the Draft AGA Response to the DOE Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Pertaining to the DOE “Process Rule” .
As a reminder, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a July 7, 2021 Federal Registernotice proposing revisions to DOE’s “Procedures, Interpretations, and Policies for Consideration of New or Revised Energy Conservation Standards and Test Procedures for Consumer Products and Certain Commercial/Industrial Equipment” (Process Rule) and requested comments on the proposals and any potential alternatives. The Process Rule is a critical requirement that spells out how DOE will develop and process proposed minimum efficiency requirements and efficiency testing procedures for all appliances and equipment (gas, electric and oil) covered by federal legislation. DOE minimum efficiency requirements can and have eliminated covered appliances and equipment from the market. A separate notice of proposed rulemaking on the Process Rule was published on April 12, 2021 and DOE accepted comments on those proposed revisions through May 27, 2021. This is a second proposal in the two-part revision process. (See April 2, 2021 BECS Committee Update on Codes and Standards for the first part). According to DOE, these proposed revisions are consistent with current DOE practice and would remove unnecessary obstacles to DOE’s ability to meet its statutory obligations under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). AGA does not agree with DOE’s characterization of the proposed process revisions in the earlier notice and in this notice that include the following topic areas: coverage determination rulemakings; clarification of EPCA’s rulemaking process for ASHRAE equipment; and clarification of DOE’s analytical methods. The Part One of DOE’s proposed changes to the Process Rule returns it to former requirements including what can be described as “guidance” rather than a DOE requirement, eliminate the minimum energy savings threshold for DOE to set a standard and reinstate the potential for a stakeholder negotiation process. It would also eliminate a mandatory 180-day waiting period between a test procedure final rule and a proposal for a new standard, a requirement that we believe is a common sense requirement to provide manufacturers time to assess changes on proposed requirements on their covered products. Each of these proposed changes would eliminate changes that many stakeholders including AGA supported. Attached are draft comments on the DOE request that are due on September 13, 2021. Please review the attached draft AGA response and provide us with any comments including suggested additions, deletions, etc. on the draft by Thursday, September 2nd.
DOE Issues a Notification of Proposed Interpretive Rule (NPIR) and Request for Comment to Eliminate Separate Product Classes for Non-Condensing and Condensing Vented Appliances by September 27.
Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Federal Register notice of proposed interpretive rule pertaining to performance-related features of certain appliances. As background on the issue, on January 15, 2021, DOE published a final interpretive rule in the Federal Register determining that, in the context of residential gas furnaces, commercial gas water heaters, and similarly-situated products or equipment, use of non-condensing technology (and associated venting) constitutes a performance-related “feature” under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), that cannot be eliminated through adoption of an energy conservation standard. This interpretation was as a result of a petition filed by the gas industry including AGA, American Public Gas Association (APGA), Spire Inc., etc., and was a very positive finding in support of assisting in keeping, cost effective natural gas furnaces, water heaters, and other types of vented gas appliances available for consumers. The interpretation basically established separate product classes for residential and commercial vented gas furnaces and commercial water heaters into non-condensing types and condensing types. As previously reported in last week’s BECS Update on Codes and Standards, DOE stated that it “deems prudent to revisit its interpretation” but provides no request by anyone or organization to revise the interpretation. DOE goes on to state that “for the reasons stated in this document, DOE proposes to return to its previous and long-standing interpretation (in effect prior to the January 15, 2021 final interpretive rule), under which the technology used to supply heated air or hot water is not a performance-related “feature” that provides a distinct consumer utility under EPCA”. DOE is requesting comments on its proposed interpretation and reports that once they arrive at a final interpretation, they plan to again “evaluate whether amended energy conservation standards would result in significant savings of energy, be technologically feasible, and be economically justified, consistent with its interpretation.” Today’s DOE notice states that they will accept comments, data, and information regarding this notice until September 27th. The Federal Register Notice notes that “interested persons may submit comments identified by docket number EERE–2018–BT–STD-0018, by email (ResFurnaceCommWaterHeater2018
STD0018@ee.doe.gov) or Federal eRulemaking portal (http://www.regulations.gov). The AGA staff is reviewing the rationale that DOE has stated is justification to revert back to its previous interpretation that did not separate vented gas appliances by noncondensing and condensing types and will develop our response to support the current interpretation. We request that the BECS committee members also review the DOE NPIR and provide us with feedback on the DOE interpretation. Keep in mind that DOE has proposed a very short comment period of 30 days to September 27th and AGA and other stakeholders are considering requesting an extension of the comment period to complete a full review of the rationale the DOE has determined to propose eliminating the separate product class determination it established on January 15, 2020.
DOE Publishes 2021 Representative Average Unit Costs of Five Residential Energy Sources. Natural Gas Continues to be the Best Energy Value.
The August 25,2021 Federal Register Notice from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is forecasting the representative average unit costs of five residential energy sources for the year 2021 pursuant to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (Act). The five sources are electricity, natural gas, No. 2 heating oil, propane and kerosene. Below is the representative cost for the 5 sources in terms of Per Million BTU’s and in dollars:
……………….$39.83 per million Btu or 13.59 cents/kWh
Natural Gas ………………………..
…………… $10.93 per million Btu or $1.093/therm or $11.36/MCF
No. 2 Heating Oil ………………………..
……. $21.62 per million Btu or $2.97/gallon
………………….$21.06 per million Btu or $1.92/gallon
………………. $25.95 per million Btu or $3.45/gallon
These costs become effective on September14, 2021 and are used in determining the estimated annual operating cost of appliances covered in the Federal Trade Commission appliance labeling rule. FTC Energy cost labels (yellow stickers) that are required on some appliances use the representative energy cost to provide consumers information on the annual operating cost of the specific appliance. Note that the estimated national average cost of electricity remains 3.6 times more than the cost of natural gas and this natural gas cost advantage for consumers needs to be considered by proponents for “electrification” and natural gas bans and their continued push for electrification by not allowing or supporting removal of natural gas appliances from homes and businesses. Also attached is the August 25, 2021 AGA Press Release announcing the DOE publication.
State Codes Activity Update.
Attached is a weekly feature of the “Friday Update” covering state code calendar activities as presented by the online utility “Fiscal Note,” which is sponsored by APGA and AGA Code and Standards. Please review the update and determine if there are state code activities that impact your service territory or organization.
For Immediate Release:
August 25, 2021
Natural Gas Continues to be the Most Affordable Residential Energy Source Says DOE
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has forecasted the average costs of five residential energy resources for 2021, finding natural gas to be approximately one-third as expensive for consumers compared to electricity, and half as expensive for consumers compared to heating oil, propane, and kerosene. The forecast was released as part of a public notice in the Federal Register on August 25th.
“Americans know they can rely on natural gas as a safe and reliable source of energy in their home, and this data from the Department of Energy reiterates it is also more affordable,” said Karen Harbert, AGA President and CEO. “This is an important differentiator at a time when families across the country are still working to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19. The natural gas industry is proud to support communities and customers with the reliable energy they need at affordable prices to ensure they can stay safe and warm and more economically secure.”
In the notice, the DOE estimated national average cost of electricity remains 3.6 times more than the cost of natural gas.
Implications of Policy-Driven Residential Electrification, a national study, found that policy-driven electrification could be burdensome to consumers and to the economy, have profound impacts and costs on the electric sector and be a very costly approach for a relatively small reduction in emissions.
Grounded in Reality: The Implications of Electrification looks at individual cities and the impacts of policy driven electrification on customer costs, GDP, jobs, and our environment.
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AGA Media Contact:
About the American Gas Association
The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. There are more than 76 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in the U.S., of which 95 percent — more than 72 million customers — receive their gas from AGA members. Today, natural gas meets more than thirty percent of the United States’ energy needs.