Proposed Regs for Federal Purchases of Energy-Efficient Equipment Would Save Taxpayers Millions | Alliance to Save Energy

Proposed Regs for Federal Purchases of Energy-Efficient Equipment Would Save Taxpayers Millions

Release Date: Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Washington, D.C., July 2007 – The Alliance to Save Energy has commended the Department of Energy’s (DOE) recently proposed regulations for federal procurement of energy-efficient equipment, while also noting that the rulemaking missed a congressionally-mandated deadline by more than a year.

“The federal government purchases $10 billion-worth of energy-using products annually,” said Alliance Vice President of Research and Analysis Joe Loper. “If energy-efficient products use even 10 percent less energy than their standard counterparts, a government shift to more efficient products would save taxpayers millions of dollars per year.”

And according to Alliance Vice President for Programs Jeffrey Harris, federal government purchasing of energy-efficient products is only the tip of the iceberg. “While the federal government is the world’s largest buyer for most energy-using products, state and local agencies, collectively, buy three to four times as much as federal agencies,” Harris pointed out.

“A growing number of these nonfederal agencies are adopting energy-efficient purchasing policies using the same ENERGY STAR and Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) criteria that are mandatory at the federal level,” Harris said. “The collective buying power of the public-sector is becoming an important market driver for energy efficiency.”

The proposed rules, published in the June 19 Federal Register, are mandated by Section 104 of the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005, which requires federal agencies to procure only ENERGY STAR and FEMP-designated energy-efficient products, unless such products are not “reasonably” available or would not be cost-effective. Any exceptions must be justified in writing and signed by the head of the agency.

The DOE guidance also makes it clear that these energy-efficiency requirements apply to all equipment and appliances installed in newly built or leased federal buildings, including military family housing being constructed and operated under the Defense Department’s Housing Privatization program.

Federal agencies are already required to procure energy-efficient equipment where possible, according to the Federal Acquisition Regulations and a presidential executive order, but until the passage of EPAct, Congress had not codified those requirements into law. By most accounts, compliance with the procurement requirements has been spotty at best.

“The proposed rulemaking provides a reasonable interpretation of the EPAct purchasing requirements and is consistent with the intent of Congress,” Loper said. “DOE’s proposed rulemaking moves the federal government one big step closer to cementing its position as a leader on energy efficiency.”

Although the Alliance praised the content of the rulemaking, it pointed out that EPAct Section 104 had required DOE to issue this rulemaking by February 2006, and that DOE has given no reason for the delay of more than 16 months.

Loper stressed the need for future DOE guidance to be issued more promptly: “This guidance should have been published more than a year ago,” he said. “With new energy legislation being introduced in Congress practically every day, it’s vital that DOE implement future energy laws in a more timely fashion. Passing legislation is just the first step.”

For further information:
Steve Capanna (202) 530-2245 (O); scapanna@ase.org