Energy Efficiency Regulation and ITI's Eight Principles

Christopher Hankin photo

Back in July, the Department of Energy issued "Proposed Determinations" of computers and servers as "covered consumer products,"  a key step in imposing new DOE energy efficiency regulations on these products.   ITI last week responded in opposition.   Our comment letters can be found here and here.

ITI sees an important role for the U.S. government in energy efficiency, but not what DOE was proposing.   Let me elaborate.

In recent decades, the ICT industry has achieved spectacular, unrivaled improvements in energy efficiency, significantly reducing the power consumption of computer systems while concurrently increasing their performance.   According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), ICT has ʺrevolutionized the relationship between economic production and energy consumption."  The tremendous efficiency gains have resulted not from government requirements but as a result of market and consumer demand, vigorous innovation and competition and voluntary initiatives such as Energy Star, and these gains will continue in the future.   New, more efficient products are displacing old technologies at a rapid rate.  

Our industry's approach to continued improvements in energy efficiency is through three areas:

  1. Energy efficiency gains through innovation.  The key drivers are consumer demand, competition, and social responsibility.
  2. Support for voluntary programs such as ENERGY STAR. These programs continue to show a strong record of success.
  3. Global regulatory convergence, with industry urging further convergence on standards, testing  procedures, and the like.

The market for both computers and servers is complex, dynamic and not well suited to regulatory approaches applied to more static sectors.  This is becoming even more true as we move away from a component-centric world to a network-centric world, where the efficiency of the system is paramount, and greater amounts of the actual work occurs via the cloud and cadres of data centers.   It is a world of transformative possibilities, and we welcome greater partnership with governments on how this new world can be leveraged towards a cleaner, greener future.  We are particularly pleased with recent discussions with DOE on  partnership efforts on data center efficiency and optimization.

While we do not see mandatory energy efficiency regulations as important to further gains, we can accept them under certain conditions.    Most importantly, they must not impede innovation.   Appropriate specification limits can target the least energy efficient products where it is cost effective, and where based on sound data collection and analysis.   In this regard, we have presented governments globally with eight principles.   These principles will continue to guide our interaction with governments both here in the U.S., and overseas.  They are:

  • Ensure programs facilitate product innovation;
  • Ensure programs are based on sound data collection and analysis;
  • Seek to adopt international standards and metrics;
  • Enact voluntary programs to achieve product energy efficiency gains;
  • Avoid using voluntary program metrics as market access requirements;
  • Harmonize with the international product category system;
  • Ensure transparency and stakeholder participation in the regulatory process;
  • Adopt minimally trade-restrictive conformity assessment requirements; and,
  • Maintain flexible, consumer-friendly labeling requirements.
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