U.S. Water News Online
BOSTON, Mass. -- On May 23, the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) announced that an agreement had been reached to increase
federal minimum standards for residential clothes washers by 35
percent over the current standard. While full implementation of this
standard will not take place until 2007, new requirements for
manufacturers will be mandated by 2004.
CEE's Residential Clothes Washer Initiative, a national program
launched in 1993, contributed to this landmark agreement by promoting
high-efficiency specifications for clothes washers and fostering
consumer acceptance of new technologies. In fact, the new federal
standards are roughly equivalent to CEE's high-efficiency
"Our members and initiative sponsors have worked hard to promote
high-efficiency clothes washers over the past seven years," said CEE
Residential Program Manager Dana Banks, who heads up the Residential
Clothes Washer Initiative. "This agreement was made possible by the
increased demand for these products by consumers. When we first
started, high efficiency-clothes washers were not even available from
domestic manufacturers. They were a niche product. Now they're
becoming the norm."
This new federal minimum culminates months of negotiation between
manufacturers and advocacy groups, prompted by the DOE's commitment
to a higher standard. "We'd like to recognize the contributions of
CEE members and allies, and the manufacturers whose recommendations
led to this agreement," Banks said.
CEE members and allies supporting the agreement include the
Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance to Save Energy, American
Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Northwest Power Planning
Council, Pacific Gas & Electric, the California Energy
Commission, the American Water Works Association, and the Appliance
Standards Awareness Project.
The new standard will be implemented in two steps. Clothes washers
manufactured after 2004 will be required to meet a modified energy
factor (MEF) of 1.04 (20 percent more efficient than the current
standard). This level will remain in effect until 2007, at which time
an MEF of 1.26 (35 percent higher than the current standard) will be
required. For comparison, the current MEF is 0.817.
The agreement also proposes a $60 million tax incentive for each
manufacturer marketing the improved models prior to the 2004
deadline. If implemented, credits will be available from 2001-2006.
Under the incentive, the credits will be based on two efficiency
tiers. The first tier will provide a credit of $50 per unit for any
products manufactured at 1.26 MEF or higher. The second tier will
provide a credit of $100 for washers manufactured at 1.42 MEF or
better, or at 1.5 MEF after 2004.
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