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Energy Star Program Faces Uncertain Future

A number of non-profit trade associations are working to change the opinions of a House Subcommittee on Energy to prevent potential changes to the Energy Star program that could either weaken it significantly or potentially end it altogether.

The subcommittee is first deciding if the program should continue to be run by the Environmental Protection Agency.  There is a strong possibility that some or all of the administration of the program will return to the Department of Energy, which is where the program started. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers would like to see a complete transfer back to the DOE.  But the Alliance to Save Energy will only support a shift of some responsibilities from the EPA to the DOE, and not a complete hand-over of the program.

Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan offered a written statement to the subcommittee that read, “The old adage, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ applies very well to today’s ENERGY STAR program and should be the test against which the subcommittee determines the content of any bill designed to change or improve the program. The Alliance looks forward to working with the subcommittee and ENERGY STAR stakeholders to ensure that continuous program improvement and innovation occurs to streamline and facilitate the involvement of partners while also ensuring that the program continues to deliver energy and dollar-savings to consumers and businesses.”

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers President Joseph McGuire testified before the subcommittee earlier this month.  He believes a complete transfer is necessary to avoid confusion in the future. ““Lack of coordination between the two agencies causes confusion for both consumers and manufacturers of the regulated appliances. The transfer from DOE to EPA was done administratively, and administrative action could, likewise, reverse the transfer,” McGuire said in his testimony. “AHAM supports the transfer back to DOE, but we also support legislation that would permanently house the program for appliances at DOE, where it belongs,” McGuire said.

On top of this, there is a strong possibility of either a significant cut in funding, or no funding at all, for the Energy Star program.  The Trump Administration is proposing a budget that eliminates all funding for the program.  One House committee bill has a nearly 25% reduction in funding. Some estimates report the Energy Star program has delivered more than $430 billion in energy and utility bill savings since it started in 1992.

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