BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of 17 states, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York in announcing an agreement with the Biden Administration’s Department of Energy that updates energy efficiency standards for 20 categories of common consumer products and commercial equipment, including residential furnaces, microwave ovens, room air conditioners and laundry machines. Industry experts estimate that these new federal standards will save American families more than $600 billion on their utility bills by 2050 and avoid more than 90 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2040.
According to Healey’s Office, in Massachusetts, the new federal standards will mean residents will incur lower costs to power their appliances and will help the state meet its long-term emissions reduction goals needed to combat climate change.
“This settlement is a big win for our residents, our country, and our planet,” AG Healey said. “We’re grateful to the Biden Administration, our multistate partners, and appliance manufacturers for reaching this agreement that will save Massachusetts families millions of dollars on their utility bills and reduce harmful air pollution.”
Today’s agreement resolves a complaint the coalition filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in November 2020 against the Trump Administration’s Department of Energy for failing to comply with deadlines for updating energy efficiency standards for a range of product categories set by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA). EPCA requires the department to periodically review and revise these efficiency standards to ensure they are set at the maximum technically feasible, and cost-effective efficiency level to save energy and reduce consumer and business utility costs.
“This agreement is essential for catching up on missed deadlines as quickly as possible in order for the incredible consumer, economic, public health and environmental benefits of updated standards to be realized,” said Richard Eckman, energy advocate at the Consumer Federation of America. “Now more than ever, consumers can use the additional pocketbook savings that updated efficiency standards will provide in the billions annually thanks to the increased energy efficiency of common household appliances. The agreement is also crucial in order to prevent millions of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change from being emitted. We’re looking forward to working with the Department of Energy in moving forward with updates to appliance efficiency standards.”
“We applaud this settlement, which will save huge amounts of energy and keep money in the pockets of consumers across America, including the 85,000 low-income public housing tenants Mass Union represents,” said Jack Cooper, executive director at the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants.
The coalition’s November 2020 complaint claimed the Trump Administration had missed EPCA deadlines for review and revision of efficiency standards for numerous product categories. In the filing, the coalition alleged that in failing to meet deadlines, the Trump Administration deprived American families of the benefits of lower energy bills, a more reliable electricity grid, and reduced emissions of dangerous air pollutants that contribute to climate change and harm public health. With this settlement, the Department of Energy has committed to publishing final standards for some of the subject product categories beginning by no later than June 2023, and publishing the balance of its final standards at various times by no later than November 2024.
It is unclear if today’s agreement will result in an increase in product prices due to the updated energy standards.
Joining AG Healey in today’s agreement are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the City of New York.