Coakley petitions federal agency

by Nick Rees |
Oct. 5, 2009, 7:12pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts has begun taking steps to enforce a gas furnace efficiency standard that is more strict than the federal standard, which could save consumers approximately $144 million in heating costs between 2013-2030.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Department of Commissioner Phil Giudice have petitioned the U.S. Department of Energy for Massachusetts to be allowed to use the higher standard, which is also expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions during the 2013 to 2030 period by approximately 100,000 metric tons.

"Massachusetts has proven itself to be a leader on forward-thinking energy efficiency policies and this is another example of how we are continuing to look for ways to mitigate costs on consumers through reduced consumption initiatives and policies," Coakley said.

"We also realize how critical it is to combat climate change, and saving significant amounts of energy will also limit the emissions of harmful greenhouse gases. It is critical that we continue to pursue new ways to save on our long-term energy costs and we are
hopeful the DOE grants this waiver request so we can continue that mission."

The average Massachusetts household would save at least $3,600 in natural gas costs over a 20-year furnace life under the proposed 90-percent efficiency standard, Coakley said.

The national annual fuel utilization efficiency standard was raised in Nov. 2007 for residential gas furnaces from 78 percent to 80 percent.

Massachusetts then filed a legal challenge to the federal rule, contending that 80-percent was too lenient as 90-percent efficient furnace models were widely available.

A hold was then placed on the move to 80-percent efficiency following President Barack Obama administration's taking of office in January, with the Department of Energy reconsidering the standard.

For Massachusetts to implement its stricter 90-percent standard, a waiver is required from the DOE, which, if granted, would be the first time a state has been allowed to set appliance efficiency standards higher than existing federal ones.

If approved, existing furnaces would not have to be replaced. The new
standards would go into effect in 2013 or three years after the waiver is accepted. The DOE has one year to act on the state's waiver.

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