“The highlight of the entire hearing was the testimony of DOE’s Daniel Simmons. Everyone else pretty much played their assigned role.”
The title of last week’s hearing on the US Department of Energy’s new pro-consumer orientation toward appliance standards, “Wasted Energy: DOE’s Inaction on Efficiency Standards & Its Impact on Consumers and the Climate”, was obviously biased. But Daniel Simmons, Assistant Secretary, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, stole the show.
First up as the only Panel 1 witness was IER alumni, Daniel Simmons, who was sworn-in on January 16th, 2019. Daniel’s five-minute allocation started at the 34-minute mark of a nearly 4-hour long hearing. Simmons was followed with five minutes of questioning from Subcommittee members; starting with Chairman Rush; who questioned a possible lifting of restrictions affecting the manufacture of certain types of incandescent light bulbs. Additional subcommittee member questioning of Simmons went to the 2-hour and 16-minute mark. Many of these questions included the role of EERE’s overhaul of its “Process Rule” to “relieve regulatory burdens.”
Simmons, well-prepared, did a very good job responding to these questions with no significant stumbles. As documented in yesterday’s post, he maintained a tight focus on:
Panel 2 started at the 2-hour 22-minute mark. Subcommittee member questioning was held until all witnesses were given their 5-minute allotment of time (more or less) to make their case. Witnesses started with Andrew deLaski, the Executive Director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), a joint venture between the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Alliance to Save Energy, the Energy Foundation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Next up was the NRDC’s Katherine Kennedy, Senior Director, Climate & Clean Energy Program. Then came the first of two “industry” witnesses; Joseph M. McGuire, the President and CEO of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). Following AHAM was Charles Harak, Senior Attorney for Energy and Utility Issues of the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC).
This witness was followed by the last “industry” witnesses, Stephen Yurek, the President and CEO of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). The last witness was David Friedman, Vice President, Advocacy for Consumer Reports. He concluded at the 2-hour and 54-minute mark at which point Subcommittee members questioned the Panel 2 witnesses for the duration of about one hour.
The highlight of the entire hearing was the testimony of DOE’s Daniel Simmons. Everyone else pretty much played their assigned role.
The energy efficiency advocates conducted their usual tirades against the Trump Administration, ostensible “wasted” energy savings, what they think is best for consumers and the environment according to their self-proclaimed “virtuous cycle.” The “industry” representatives reiterated the usual about excessive regulatory burdens (with good reason). So it goes for most Congressional hearings these days; they tend to range somewhere between kabuki theater and infomercials.
No overly “hardball” questions were thrown by Subcommittee members to the panelists. The first “energy efficiency” panelist, Andrew deLaski, representing the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), did throw some (at the following time markers):
2:25 unnecessary rewrite of Process Rule
2:26 petition from the gas industry to eliminate the consideration of condensing technology
2:26 this Administration has taken a wrecking ball [to appliance energy efficiency standards]
It is worth noting that ASAP is a joint venture “founded in 1999 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the Alliance to Save Energy, the Energy Foundation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).” The “Process rule” that ASAP and the rest of the “energy efficiency” advocates complained about was what much of Simmons’ oral and written testimony was about.
What’s next? Back to the ongoing debate of EERE’s 1996 “Process Rule” overhaul to determine who knows what’s best for consumers. The “Process Rule” is a very big deal and not just some esoteric minutiae about EERE procedures for establishing appliance minimum energy efficiency standards. Fundamentally, it’s about the objectivity and transparency of why appliances are regulated and for whose benefit. These are the issues:
The “electrify everything” and “Green New Deal” contingencies appear aligned in the cause of “deep decarbonization,” unconcerned with the spending that would be required to achieve their vision. Such costs could easily be in the tens of Trillions; and that’s just for the “energy” related parts.
On March 21st, DOE will hold a public meeting about its “Process Rule.” To get some additional understanding of the different sides of this debate, please refer to the following articles (or else read Docket ID: EERE-2017-BT-STD-0062 at regulations.gov if you have a few spare days):
Mark Krebs is an engineer engaged in regulated energy efficiency program design and evaluation for over thirty years. He has served as an advisor to DOE, expert witness in dozens of energy-efficiency filings, and writing about it since 1996 with a Public Utilities Fortnightly article, “It’s a War Out There: A Gas Man Questions Electric Efficiency” For more about Mark, please see his “category.”