Alliance to Save Energy Says Summers Will Be More Expensive, Dirtier under Bush Air Conditioner Rules

Release Date: Thursday, May 23, 2002

Nation's Electric Grid Will Feel the Strain

Summers will be more expensive for consumers, dirtier for the environment — and possibly even hotter if the nation's electric systems are disrupted during peak demand — all because of new Bush Administration regulations, published today in the Federal Register, weakening the energy efficiency of air conditioners.

All manufacturers already make air conditioners that meet the higher standard, which would not go into effect until 2006, and most manufacturers offer even more efficient models.

Alliance to Save Energy Chairman and U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan says the regulations represent a lost opportunity. "I am disappointed that the President passed up the opportunity to save energy, prevent potential blackouts, and save consumers substantial amounts of money on their electricity bills."

Alliance President David M. Nemtzow noted, "By lowering the minimum requirements for air conditioner efficiency, the Bush Administration has bowed to special interest pressure and dealt a blow to American consumers, the environment, and the reliability of the nation's electric grid. With Memorial Day and summertime just around the corner, air conditioners will soon be blasting. They should be doing so efficiently and cost effectively."

Seven states — California, Nevada, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey — all favor the higher standard and are seeking a Federal court order directing the U.S. Department of Energy to enforce the higher minimum efficiency standard established in the final days of the Clinton Administration. "Let's hope the courts overturn this anti-consumer, anti-environment, and anti-reliability decision," Nemtzow said.

Air conditioning defines peak electrical demand for most of the nation and can be as much as 70 percent of peak demand in some states, such as Texas. For consumers, the higher efficiency standard would have meant savings of $1 billion annually on electric bills. For the nation, it would have meant construction of 48 fewer power plants and avoidance of 2.5 million tons of carbon pollution each year. According to the Department of Energy, consumers would have recouped the additional cost of the more efficient units in just over a year due to lower electric bills