Washington - The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) is again urging federal agencies to adopt a petition it submitted with other groups last year that would recognize the benefits of smart appliances and hasten the development of the smart grid.
AHAM's most recent plea was prompted by the release today of a joint National Action Plan by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) calling for a national forum to jumpstart the development of demand-response programs that could significantly reduce electricity usage during periods of high demand.
AHAM's petition urges the Energy Star program to incorporate a 5 percent allowance to the energy performance level required to meet Energy Star eligibility criteria for smart-grid enabled appliances as soon as possible to increase the deployment of these energy-saving products across the country.
A smart-grid-enabled appliance can receive a signal from a utility and automatically adjust its operation to move its electricity use to a better and less expensive time of day.
AHAM said the petition supports the Obama administration's smart-grid goals, is widely supported, and is a no-cost measure that the DOE and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can take on a national scale to recognize the benefits of demand response capable and smart home appliances.
"This petition recognizes the opportunity for smart appliances to contribute to energy efficiency and the smart grid," said AHAM president Joseph McGuire. "An allowance of 5 percent is an important incentive for manufacturers to produce smart appliances, and the data show that smart-grid-enabled appliances can deliver a greater benefit to the American consumer than the 5 percent request."
The petition was submitted to the Energy Star program in December 2010 by AHAM, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and several efficiency and consumer organizations, under the coordination of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
AHAM is appealing to the DOE and EPA to adopt the petition.
The industry trade group cited a study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimating that the implementation of smart-grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent annually by 2030. In addition, a cost/benefit analysis by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for the DOE, which accompanied the petition, determined that the annual benefits from having smart-grid capabilities in an appliance are greater than the costs of an equivalent 5 percent increase in operational machine efficiencies.
PNNL's analysis found that smart appliances can be a significant and cleaner alternative to today's "spinning reserves," which are power plants that are a required to be "idling" and are a wasteful, but necessary part of today's electrical grid, AHAM said.