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Feb 22 -- Comment period extended until March 27, 2023. https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-03547

1) Dec 28 [news release] -- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today proposed new energy-efficiency standards for three categories of distribution transformers to improve the resiliency of America’s power grid, lower utility bills, and significantly reduce domestic carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions. DOE’s proposal represents a strategic step to advance the diversification of transformer core technology, which will conserve energy and reduce costs. Almost all transformers produced under the new standard would feature amorphous steel cores, which are significantly more energy efficient than those made of traditional, grain-oriented electrical steel. If adopted within DOE’s proposed timeframe, the new rule will come into effect in 2027. . . .  

DOE estimates that the proposed standards, if finalized, would reduce U.S. CO2 emissions by 340 million metric tons over the next 30 years—an amount roughly equal to the annual emissions of 90 coal-fired power plants. DOE also expects the proposed rule to generate over 10 quads of energy savings and approximately $15 billion in savings to the nation from 30 years of shipments.

The Administration is also working to address near-term supply chain challenges and strengthen domestic manufacturing of key components in the electric grid. In June, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to accelerate the domestic production of clean energy technologies, including distribution transformers and grid components. In October, DOE issued a Request for Information to gather additional public input to determine how to maximize the impact of these new authorities. The comment period closed on November 30th and DOE is carefully considering the information submitted.

Additionally, as the supply of traditional, grain-oriented steel tightens, DOE is focused on diversifying domestic steel production where capacity can be expanded, such as in the production of amorphous steel used in advanced transformers. In support of these efforts, DOE is also finalizing the implementation guidance for the distribution transformer and extended product system rebate programs established by the Energy Act of 2020 and funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This rebate program encourages the replacement of energy-inefficient distribution transformers and extended product systems with more-efficient replacements.  

A distribution transformer is a device used to change the voltage of electrical power. A common sight on utility poles in neighborhoods throughout the country, these transformers lower the voltage of electrical power before distribution to the customer. Purchasers of distribution transformers are primarily electric utilities and commercial or industrial entities.  

Current efficiency standards apply to liquid-immersed, low-voltage dry-type, and medium-voltage dry-type distribution transformers. DOE’s proposed rule would amend the energy conservation standards for all three categories.  

On Thursday, February 16, 2023, DOE will host a public meeting to solicit feedback on the proposed rulemaking from stakeholders.  

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as amended (“EPCA”) requires the Attorney General to provide DOE a written determination of whether the proposed standard is likely to lessen competition. The U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division invites input from market participants and other interested persons with views on the likely competitive impact of the proposed standard.

Draft standards: https://www.energy.gov/sites/default/files/2022-12/dt-ecs-nopr.pdf
News release: https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-proposes-new-efficiency-standards-distribution-transformers

2) FRN: Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Distribution Transformers -- Proposed Rule
 
The Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as amended (“EPCA”), prescribes energy conservation standards for various consumer products and certain commercial and industrial equipment, including distribution transformers. EPCA also requires the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) to periodically determine whether more-stringent, standards would be technologically feasible and economically justified, and would result in significant energy savings. In this notice of proposed rulemaking (“NOPR”), DOE proposes amended energy conservation standards for distribution transformers, and also announces a public meeting to receive comment on these proposed standards and associated analyses and results.
 
DOE will hold a public meeting via webinar on Thursday, February 16, 2023, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. DOE will accept comments, data, and information regarding this NOPR no later than March 13, 2023.

EPCA requires the Attorney General to provide DOE a written determination of whether the proposed standard is likely to lessen competition. The U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division invites input by February 10, 2023 from market participants and other interested persons with views on the likely competitive impact of the proposed standard.

DOE has tentatively concluded that the proposed standards represent the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that is technologically feasible and economically justified, and would result in the significant conservation of energy. Specifically, with regards to technological feasibility products achieving these standard levels are already commercially available for all product classes covered by this proposal.

As for economic justification, DOE's analysis shows that for each equipment class the benefits of the proposed standards exceed the burdens of the proposed standards. Using a 7-percent discount rate for consumer benefits and costs and NOX and SO2 reduction benefits, and a 3-percent discount rate case for GHG social costs, the estimated annual cost of the proposed standards for distribution transformers is $652.5 million per year in increased distribution transformer costs, while the estimated annual benefits are $961.8 million in reduced distribution transformer operating costs, $664.2 million in climate benefits and $665.2 million in health benefits. The net benefit amounts to $1,638.7 million per year.

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-28590 [138 pages]

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