Ceiling fan efficiency rule draws ire of House Republicans
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Ceiling fan efficiency rule draws ire of House Republicans

Aug 22, 2023

Republicans on the House Small Business Committee pressed Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Thursday for answers on proposed energy-efficiency standards for ceiling fans.

The proposed standards were first published in the Federal Register in June, and the comment period closed earlier this week. According to the Energy Department, the rule as applied to standard residential ceiling fans would cut fan-related electricity costs by about 40 percent relative to the least efficient fans currently available.

The House panel presented the rules as burdensome to ceiling fan manufacturers, particularly smaller ones.

“This proposed rule would decrease the maximum estimated energy consumption permissible for large diameter and belt driven ceiling fans,” committee Republicans wrote. “This rule would require numerous small business fan manufacturers to redesign their products and may put between 10 and 30 percent of small business ceiling fan manufacturers out of business. It appears that the Department of Energy may not have properly considered small entities during this rulemaking process.”

An Energy Department spokesperson told The Hill this aspect has been mischaracterized, saying in an email that the one-time total conversion cost would be about $107 million for all manufacturers.

“The incremental cost to consumers is $86.6 million annually, while the operating cost savings are $281 million annually — both at a 7 percent discount rate,” the spokesperson said. “The savings are more than triple the incremental costs.”

The spokesperson noted the standards, “which are required by Congress,” would not be in effect for five years and would save Americans “up to $369 million per year, while substantially reducing harmful air pollution — a crucial fact that some have conveniently failed to mention.”

The House committee’s letter was signed by Chairman Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), as well as Reps. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), Aaron Bean (R-Fla.) and Jake Ellzey (R-Texas).

Some House Republicans also spoke out against the proposal, including Salazar and Rep. Ben Cline (Va.).

Efficiency standards for home appliances have become culture war flashpoints under the Biden administration. The administration has restored a number of efficiency rules rolled back under the Trump administration, including for shower heads, water heaters and gas furnaces.

The most umbrage, however, has been reserved for efficiency regulations over gas stoves, beginning last year when Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. approved a request for information on hazards associated with the devices, which the CPSC formalized in March. Although Trumka has said there are no plans to ban gas stoves, House Republicans have introduced formal legislation this year to legally prevent such a ban.

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) invoked that earlier controversy to dismiss furor over the proposed fan rules, tweeting, “We are not coming for your ceiling fans. Has anyone lost their gas stove yet?”

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