By Anthony Capkun
April 10, 2013 – The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) in the States expressed its “overall satisfaction” with the Department of Energy’s (DoE) final rule establishing increased energy conservation standards for distribution transformers.
“NEMA is appreciative of the open process and fair hearing of all perspectives that DoE allowed for in the negotiations,” said NEMA assistant vice-president for industry operations John Caskey. “This transparent process gave all interested parties, including transformer manufacturers, the opportunity to discuss existing technologies, market forces, benefits and burdens… and we believe this input was largely reflected in the final rule.”
Throughout the fall of 2011, DoE hosted a negotiated rulemaking, where stakeholders gathered to discuss the justification for higher energy efficiency standards for all three classes of regulated distribution transformers: low-voltage dry-type, medium-voltage dry-type, and medium-voltage liquid-immersed.
Under current energy conservation standards, distribution transformers are already the most energy-efficient product that DoE regulates, says NEMA, at 97-99% efficiency. NEMA members, however, believed there was an opportunity to increase energy conservation without unduly burdening the sectors that supply materials for transformers, the manufacturers, and the consumers of transformers.
During the rulemaking process, several performance tiers above those selected in the final rule were proposed and reviewed. NEMA manufacturers provided data and analysis to DoE and participants in the negotiations and, says NEMA, expressed their reservations with higher-performance tiers that relied on materials with limited availability and few suppliers, and that would have required significant capital investment for any company that lacked amorphous material construction capabilities at the outset.
The efficiency levels for medium-voltage liquid-immersed transformers announced today remain unchanged from DoE’s proposed rule and NEMA’s recommended levels. These efficiency levels ensure maximum energy savings while remaining within the bounds of technical feasibility and maintaining a competitive marketplace.
For low-voltage dry-type transformers, the final rule requires the efficiency levels in TSL-2, whereas the proposed rule would have required TSL-1. During the negotiations, NEMA expressed reservations about the higher efficiency levels out of concern for its impact on small manufacturers.
Updated efficiency levels for the third category of transformers—medium-voltage dry-type—had been previously agreed to by all parties during the negotiations.
“DoE should be commended for an open and transparent rulemaking process,” said Caskey. “We believe the final rule goes a long way in promoting efficiency while maintaining a vibrant transformer manufacturing industry.”
NEMA is the association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, founded in 1926 and headquartered in Arlington, Va. Its member companies manufacture a diverse set of products, including power transmission and distribution equipment, lighting systems, factory automation and control systems, and medical diagnostic imaging systems.