Following a Request for Information (RFI) published on November 28, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has issued a notice extending the period for comments on the use of market-based approaches in the U.S. Appliance and Equipment Energy Conservation Standards program. The new deadline is March 2, 2018.

The RFI provides an opportunity to reevaluate a program that has not changed much in the past 40 years. The EERE is considering modifications that would provide additional compliance flexibilities while reducing costs, enhancing consumer choice, and maintaining or increasing energy savings. The RFI discusses several market-based regulatory approaches that apply to other sectors, such as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program for light-duty vehicles, which would allow companies within the industry to average energy efficiency across all or specific product classes.

The EERE is also requesting feedback on possible credit or trading schemes. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) sets an express structure and schedule of energy efficiency standards for certain product classes. The RFI makes clear that ECPA will continue to apply, raising some questions about the extent of any available flexibility.

The RFI does not address how a modified program would interface with Federal Trade Commission energy guide label regulations, nor does it consider market expectations for energy efficiency data. Implications for consumer-facing information are also critical for manufacturers, although not mentioned in the RFI. However, the EERE welcomes comments on any subject within the scope of the notice, including topics not raised in the RFI, so this is an opportunity to raise such issues.