American National Power announced three executive changes: Joseph E. Cofelice, senior v.p., was given the added post of COO; Jim Murray, senior v.p., was given additional duties of CFO; and David...
Has the electric industry got lawmakers in its back pocket, or are charges of bias just smoke?
Thank you for trying to make some sense out of the continuing site vs. source energy debate with your article of April 15 titled, "Appliance Efficiency: Does the Fuel Cycle Make A Difference?" This debate has raged since the 1970s, and it is time that the effort put into it is applied to more constructive purposes.
The question posed by your article is whether the U.S. Department of Energy is biased in its energy efficiency standards-setting process. In fact, this debate is more about whether the standards-setting process can be used to gain market advantage for a particular energy source. Several inconsistencies in the statements made in your article highlight this point.
- Apples and Oranges. Mr. Hemphill of the GRI correctly points out that "comparing electricity and gas is comparing apples to oranges." Yet, the only reason to employ a source energy calculation is to attempt to make such an "apples to oranges" comparison. That is exactly why the existing federal standards-making process separates appliances into product classes, and sets an appropriate standard for each class.
In the water heater rulemaking, for example, one standard will be set for electric resistance water heaters based on what is achievable and economic for that technology. Another standard will be set for natural gas-fired water heaters based on what is achievable and economic for that technology. This approach avoids the need for an "apples to oranges" comparison of electricity to natural gas, and makes the site vs. source energy debate irrelevant.
- Efficiency Calculations. Mr. Rosenstock of the Edison Electric Institute states that source energy would "make calculation entirely too complicated." Mr. Fritts of the American Gas Association (AGA) states that "the gas industry, in fact, has come up with its own calculations for adding source to the efficiency equation." Both of these statements seem to imply that source energy can be calculated with any degree of certainty when, in fact, it is at best only a gross estimate that varies depending on who is doing the calculating and what they want to conclude. Further, none of these statements recognizes that there is a fatal energy policy problem with source energy estimates, because they favor any fuel used directly by an appliance.
For example, under AGA's source energy calculation procedures, an oil- or even a coal-fired furnace is preferable to electric resistance heat. Using this method, a gas furnace would be preferable to electric resistance heat even if the electricity was supplied from over 50 percent renewable energy.
- Latest Technology. Mr. Fritts also complains about DOE's decision not to base the minimum standard for electric water heaters on the capabilities of heat pump water heaters because they are not yet "on the market" [although] DOE continued to evaluate potential gas water heater improvements that are on the market. The alternatives to DOE's action would have been to either set an electric water heater standard that could not be met or to not consider improving the gas appliance standard