ANNAPOLIS – Maryland consumers and businesses could save up to $2.6 billion over the next 20 years if the state adopts new energy efficiency standards, according to a report promoting the establishment of standards for 10 Northeastern states.
The standards, which would apply to 15 commercial and residential products – including vending machines, coin-operated clothes washers, ceiling fans and torchiere lamps, among others – were suggested by the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships and Appliance Standards Awareness Project, both based in Massachusetts.
An energy-efficient torchiere lamp can pay for itself in about seven months in electricity savings, according to information from the Maryland Public Interest Research Group, which released the report Wednesday.
MaryPIRG cited a Massachusetts lighting company that produces torchiere lamps using just 58 watts of electricity, compared to the 300 watts used by conventional halogen torchiere lamps.
By requiring manufacturers to meet “easily achievable standards for products which are already on the market,” Maryland can benefit in four major ways, said MaryPIRG spokeswoman Gigi Kellett: saving money for consumers and businesses, improving electric system reliability, avoiding new power plant construction and reducing pollution.
“It is the smartest, cheapest, fastest and cleanest step that we can take,” Kellett said in a written statement.
Energy efficiency standards set in Maryland for central heat pumps, for example, would save almost $577 million – an estimate based on retail energy prices – by the year 2020, according to the report.
If Maryland adopted the recommended standards, the state could reduce carbon emissions by 926,000 metric tons – the equivalent of removing 740,000 cars from the road – and conserve energy equivalent to the amount used by 18 percent of Maryland households in 2000.
The Maryland Energy Administration commended the report as “comprehensive,” said assistant director Geraldine Nicholson. “It’s an excellent road map that states can take . . . to get significant emissions reductions as well as significant consumer savings.”
MEA reviewed a preliminary version of the report, Nicholson said, and Director Fred Hoover sits on the advisory board of the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships.
The administration was also supportive of a bill introduced in February by state Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, recommending minimum energy efficiency standards for 10 products, including lighted exit signs and clothes washers. The bill never made it out of committee, but MaryPIRG isn’t giving up on it.
“It was a terrific bill, and it did exactly what was recommended in this report,” said Kellett. “We’re going to be pushing for it again.” Frosh could not be reached to discuss the legislation. States have long taken the initiative in establishing standards to conserve energy across the country. California and New York were the first to pass energy efficiency standards in the 1970s. Other states followed in the 1980s, prompting manufacturers to seek an alternative to state standards, the report said. Then, in 1987, the federal government passed the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, which set minimum energy efficiency standards for residential appliances, such as refrigerators, air conditioning and heating equipment. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 added commercial water heaters, bathroom appliances and certain types of lamps. Despite the proliferation of new energy-consuming products, the act has not been amended since, the report said. The report encourages states to take the initiative again, and cites the Maryland bill as a model. – 30 – CNS-10-16-02