For anyone involved in energy efficiency programs, this is big. Most halogen bulbs may soon disappear from store shelves due to moving forward with a 45 lumen per watt (LPW) minimum efficiency standard that has been on the back burner due to Final Rules issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) during the former President Trump's administration.
A series of three events has made it quite clear that the DOE, under the the President Biden administration, intends to readdress several of those rules related to the the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). In particular, General Service Lamps (GSLs) appears to be first up.
1. Department of Energy Memo
First, the DOE issued a memo in response to President Biden's Executive Order No. 13,990 which directed the heads of all agencies to "immediately review all existing regulations. . . issued . . . between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021, that. . . may be inconsistent with, or present obstacles to” the environmental goals stated in that executive order. The memo provides a list of 13 rulings for immediate review, including:
10. "Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for General Service Incandescent Lamps," 84 Fed. Reg. 71626 (December 27, 2019).
12. "Energy Conservation Program: Definition for General Service Lamps," 84 Fed. Reg. 46661 (September 5, 2019).
2. DOE Takes Action
Second, as a result of that memo, the DOE took action in the litigation I've previously written about, Dockets 19-3652 and 19-3658, by filing a motion to hold these cases in abeyance for 60 days (basically to pause proceedings). They specifically cited the DOE memo as the reason for the motion in order to allow the DOE sufficient time to conduct its review of the rulings being challenged.
3. Agenda Announced
Finally, the Semiannual Regulatory Agenda was posted not too long ago and the first item on the agenda is Energy Conservation Standards for GSLs. This is not the statutory rulemaking, but a special addition to the agenda. The abstract for this item states "The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will issue a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that includes a proposed determination with respect to whether to amend or adopt standards for general service light-emitting diode (LED) lamps and that may include a proposed determination with respect to whether to amend or adopt standards for compact fluorescent lamps."
Put these things together and what do you get? It's likely that the DOE plans to suspend, revise, or rescind the previous agency actions. Given that these regulations always need to have predictable timelines for implementation in order to account for the economic impacts on industry, it's most likely that the first step would be to rescind the previous Final Rule and then issue a new Proposed Rule with a comment period, followed by a new Final Rule with a comment period, and the Final Rule would include a new timeline for enforcement.
Based on the speed of things happening right now and with GSLs as the first agenda item, we may see a new Final Rule yet this year. Regardless, manufacturers and retailers will definitely request 1-2 years for sell-through and manufacturing line changes during the comment period, so it could still be 2023 before we see the 45 LPW minimum standard go into effect.