DOE boosts enforcement of energy efficiency standards


Scott Blake
Harris, DOE
general counsel
20 October 2009 – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced three new steps to strengthen its ability to enforce energy efficiency standards.

The steps are:

  • a new enforcement team within the Office of the General Counsel,
  • a program to randomly review manufacturers’ compliance with DOE certification requirements, and
  • guidance further detailing its energy efficiency enforcement regulations.

These new steps are part of DOE’s ongoing effort to save energy for American consumers and businesses by clearing the backlog of energy efficiency standards for appliances and aggressively enforcing energy efficiency standards.

This summer, DOE initiated investigations of alleged violations against both an air conditioner manufacturer and a freezer manufacturer.

“For the sake of our environment and our economy, it’s critical that we enforce our energy efficiency regulations,” said Scott Blake Harris, DOE general counsel. “Strong enforcement of the rules will encourage compliance and keep manufacturers who break the law from having a competitive advantage over manufacturers who play by the rules.”

In its new guidance on Energy Efficiency Enforcement Regulations, DOE confirms that under existing regulations, the agency can take enforcement action and assess civil penalties if a manufacturer fails to properly certify a covered product and retain records. Specifically, DOE clarifies that any failure to certify covered products according to agency rules violates the Energy Policy Conservation Act of 1975 and DOE’s regulations.

The new enforcement team, reporting to the general counsel, is comprised of lawyers with extensive litigation and regulatory experience. As part of its increased enforcement efforts, the enforcement team will be initiating a compliance review of certification reports for covered consumer products. DOE will randomly select previously filed certification reports for review, request certification records as needed, and hold manufacturers accountable for failing to certify covered products according to DOE rules.