This piece was originally published in the January/February 2020 issue of electroindustry.
Alex Boesenberg, Senior Manager of Regulatory Affairs, NEMA
Despite the recent departure of Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry, DOE staff seem to have maintained their stride. The Administration continues to focus on improving regulatory proceedings, particularly in terms of transparency and fairness of analytical review.
For example, after a very modest number of “no new Standard” decisions in the previous 25 years of DOE regulatory review (five total; NEMA is responsible for two of these), the DOE in 2019 proposed several such outcomes, including some for NEMA products.
Lighting products, a favorite product sector for energy-efficiency attention, saw two proceedings recommended for “no new Standard”—general service incandescent lamps and fluorescent lamp ballasts. Neither comes as a surprise; both technologies are highly mature, maximized in design, and rapidly losing market share to solid- state lighting. Between very small incremental potential for increased efficiency, financial analyses cannot justify such investments when sales are in decline.
The LED revolution is well underway, and legacy technology is finally getting a break from previously aggressive regulatory schedules and attention. There is still plenty of work to do in managing these existing regulations at both the Federal and State level, and NEMA will continue to represent Members in this sector.
Standards and test procedures for electric motors, as well as distribution transformers, are also in routine review. Also in the news at the time of this writing, the 2016 regulations for uninterruptible power supplies (among others) are likely to have been officially recognized, despite the lost DOE appeal against publishing them.
If published, the regulations cannot be edited or revised from the 2016 version, so given that industry has had more than two years to come to terms with the contents, it is hoped that any potentially negative impacts are readily mitigated.
The DOE was not alone in issuing items of interest: President Trump issued two Executive Orders in October 2019, (EO) 13891 and 13892, titled “Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents” and “Promoting the Rule of Law Through Transparency and Fairness in Civil Administrative Enforcement and Adjudication.” These orders are focused on reducing the perceived abuse of federal agency guidance documents.
When offering guidance about the interpretation of a regulation under agency management, such documents can become tools of enforcement, and a previously untouched sector can find itself suddenly under scrutiny and facing potential penalty. The EOs seek to increase the opportunity for public comment, awareness, and scrutiny of such guidance and to make that guidance subject to formal public notice and comment procedures, similar to rulemakings. ei