DOE and EPA will settle differences by end of April

March 18, 2009
The political fight between two US government agencies over who should control Energy Star for solid-state lighting is to be resolved soon.
A joint statement has been issued by two US government agencies, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), concerning the ongoing debate about Energy Star criteria for solid-state lighting products.

Both bodies have issued Energy Star criteria related to SSL which are, depending on who you ask, either complementary or overlapping. In any case, the issuance of two sets of requirements has created confusion in the industry.

The statement says, “The administration is aware of issues with regard to Energy Star criteria for Solid State Lighting products and is committed to addressing these issues and working with program stakeholders to continue to build on the success of the Energy Star program and the benefits it provides in reducing energy use and avoiding emissions of greenhouse gases.

“Specifically, the EPA and DOE will resolve outstanding issues regarding interagency coordination and division of responsibilities within 45 calendar days.”

And that was the end of the statement. So we should expect to see an answer by the end of April or early May, just in time for Lightfair. The statement was issued in time to smooth the waters ahead of this week’s Energy Star Lighting Partners Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

The EPA/DOE statement follows a recent surge in activity in this area. In early March, EPA unveiled the draft version 4.3 of its Residential Lighting Fixtures criteria, and invited comments (see News). The new draft contains changes based on a previous round of comments.

DOE says war is over

Lst week, Jim Brodrick, who runs the DOE’s Solid State Lighting program, circulated an email to advise his readership that the battle with EPA over Energy Star was at an end. Clearly, the joint statement from EPA and DOE issued this week indicates that EPA does not agree with Brodrick’s conclusions.

Brodrick advised his readership that the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill had provided “ less than $25,000,000 for solid state lighting research and development." Obviously, this ongoing support for the DOE SSL program is to be applauded.

The Bill also says that "Consistent with section 912(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Department shall implement an Energy Star Program for solid state lighting and develop Energy Star specifications for solid state lighting in connection with the nation's efforts to promote the commercialization of these products.”

“What does this mean?” asked Brodrick in his email. “Simply put, it means that the responsibility for a federally-sponsored Energy Star Program for solid-state lighting rests firmly in the hands of the Department [of Energy]…The action by Congress on Tuesday should quell any concerns that the SSL industry and its stakeholders have about the Program with which they should partner.”

“The existence of two competing criteria has created a great deal of consternation and apprehension that will take some time to dissipate. However, now that the issue has been resolved it is time to move on…” added Brodrick.

Brodrick also talked about compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and suggested that all of the Energy Star lighting programs will be placed “under one roof.”

Brodrick concluded by saying that, “I join my colleagues on the DOE Energy Star Team in extending a welcoming hand to those manufacturers that have traditionally worked with EPA.”