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Standards Play Role in Landmark U.S. Energy Bill

New York, Aug 02, 2005

After several years of development and dispute, the complex and controversial Energy Policy Act of 2005 (H.R. 6), or more simply known as the U.S. Energy Bill, was passed on July 28 in the House of Representatives. Expected to be signed into law by President Bush this week, this first comprehensive energy bill in thirteen years includes several elements in which standards play a significant role.

Electric reliability standards
The U.S. Energy Bill mandates the adoption of reliability standards for the electricity transmission grid, provides incentives for grid improvement and reform of transmission authorization rules, and includes language that would create an electric reliability organization (ERO). The transmission grid currently operates under voluntary standards set by ANSI member and accredited standards developer the North American Reliability Council (NERC), which has no authority to enforce the standards.

Under this bill, the transition from the existing voluntary system of reliability standards to federally mandated requirements is designed to improve our nation’s electricity transmission capability and reliability to stop future blackouts. The bill has paved the way for the creation of an electric reliability organization with the ability to develop and enforce mandatory reliability standards governing the use of its transmission grid in North America.

“By including the NERC-supported reliability language in this energy bill, Congress has made a clear statement that we must now get on with the job of establishing an industry-led, self-regulatory reliability organization that will have the ability to set and enforce mandatory reliability standards throughout North America,” said Michehl R. Gent, NERC President and CEO.

Efficiency requirements and standards
The U.S. Energy Bill establishes new mandatory efficiency requirements for federal buildings, and efficiency standards and product labeling for battery chargers, commercial refrigerators, freezers, unit heaters and other household products, which will ultimately improve the overall energy efficiency of products offered to American customers.

This feature of the bill will most likely be welcomed by ANSI members and accredited standard developers including the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA), the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC). These groups have collectively been involved in pushing for improvements in energy legislation, which they stated will protect the technology and manufacturing sectors of the economy, while simultaneously enhancing overall efficiency. [See related story: ANSI Members Push For Improvements in Emerging Energy Legislation]

Daylight Saving Time
The new bill extends Daylight Saving Time (DST) by four weeks – pushing the beginning date to the second Sunday in March and extending DST to the first Sunday in November, taking it beyond Halloween. It is estimated that DST actually trims U.S. electricity usage by nearly 1% each day it is in effect, with peak savings of up to 5% in the first week of implementation. Extending DST and ultimately delaying the start of Standard Time by one week will reduce energy consumption by the equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil for each day of the extension. Studies also indicate that the extension of DST, which is scheduled to take effect in 2007, will also lower crime and traffic fatalities and allow for more recreation time and increased economic activity.

Some groups including children’s safety advocates are concerned about this change, however, citing safety risks related to children walking to school in darkness. “They would have trouble crossing the street, drivers might not see them, and abductions would be easier,” says Anne Weselak, president of the National Parent Teacher Association. On the other hand, those in favor of the change are retailers and recreation groups, including the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association and the National Golf Course Owners Association, which expect a boom in business and economic benefits from the four extra weeks a year of longer days.

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