Quantcast

New Standards for Electric Motors Would Save Consumers Boatloads of Cash

Business

By Meg Waltner

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Like the vast majority of Americans, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about electric motors in the 1-to-500 horsepower range. Astoundingly, though, these motors consume about 50 percent of all the electricity used by industry in the U.S. 

That’s right: 50 percent.

That’s why the issuance today of long-overdue proposed energy-efficiency standards for electric motors by the U.S. Department of Energy is particularly important news. What’s more, these proposed standards were set at levels supported by both motor manufacturers and efficiency advocates, including NRDC. When you have advocates and manufacturers agreeing on efficiency standards for 50 percent of the U.S.’s industrial electricity use, that’s a big deal!

Like recently proposed efficiency standards for walk-in freezers and coolers, commercial refrigeration equipment and metal halide lamps, these electric motor standards will take a big bite out of U.S. energy consumption. In fact, over 30 years, the motor standards will save about seven quads of energy—that’s roughly equivalent to 1 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity, enough electricity to power almost every home in the U.S. for a year. The money savings aren’t chump change either; over 30 years, they’re estimated to save consumers approximately $23.3 billion total. Add to that cumulative carbon dioxide reductions of nearly 400 million metric tons—about the same as taking 82.5 million cars off the road for a year—and you’ve got a pretty impressive package. The new standards can have another important impact, too. That impact can be felt across the globe, where U.S. standards are influencing overseas manufacturers to improve the efficiency of their motors, too.

Graphic credit: U.S. Energy Information Administration

All this is great news not just for our climate and our wallets but also for U.S. industry and jobseekers. While most of us don’t really think about electric motors, every device or piece of equipment that uses electricity to make something move most likely uses a motor to do that work. Across the United States, buildings and industry employ electric motors, like the ones to which the proposed standards will apply, for everything from fans and pumps to elevators, conveyor belts and other applications. Today’s efficiency standards, once in effect, will cut costs for businesses and consumers, making industries more competitive in the global marketplace and here at home, too. Those money savings will mean more jobs for Americans as energy-savings dollars are reinvested throughout the economy. 

As I mentioned earlier, like many recent national efficiency standards, this one was negotiated among industry and a sizeable group of stakeholders, including NRDC and other efficiency advocates. While the proposed standard improves the efficiency of motors, the biggest savings come from significantly expanding the types of motors covered by the standards. Under the proposed standard almost all motors between 1-500 horsepower would have to meet the required efficiency levels.

The motor standard is one of several efficiency standards that has been long-delayed. DOE recently committed to meeting deadlines for these standards, and it’s great to see the agency follow through on this commitment. NRDC played a big role in getting DOE back on track, as a participant in a coalition that pushed DOE forward.

Electric motors and the energy-efficiency standards that make them better and more cost-effective are hardly top-of-mind for most of us. But by proposing new efficiency standards today, the Department of Energy put the importance of electric motors into focus, offering American industry and consumers an opportunity to cut costs, save energy and minimize pollution, too.

This piece originally appeared on the NRDC Switchboard blog.

Visit EcoWatch’s SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) speaks during the North American Building Trades Unions Conference at the Washington Hilton April 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

Colorado senator and 2020 hopeful Michael Bennet introduced his plan to combat climate change Monday, in the first major policy rollout of his campaign. Bennet's plan calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank," using $1 trillion in federal spending to "catalyze" $10 trillion in private spending for the U.S. to transition entirely to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Read More Show Less
Foto-Rabe / Pixabay

When Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan in August 2018, its own estimates said the reduced regulations could lead to 1,400 early deaths a year from air pollution by 2030.

Now, the EPA wants to change the way it calculates the risks posed by particulate matter pollution, using a model that would lower the death toll from the new plan, The New York Times reported Monday. Five current or former EPA officials familiar with the plan told The Times that the new method would assume there is no significant health gain by lowering air pollution levels below the legal limit. However, many public health experts say that there is no safe level of particulate matter exposure, which has long been linked to heart and lung disease.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A crate carrying one of the 33 lions rescued from circuses in Peru and Columbia is lifted onto the back of a lorry before being transported to a private reserve on April 30, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Animal welfare advocates are praising soon-to-be introduced legislation in the U.S. that would ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.

Read More Show Less
A tornado Monday in Union City, Oklahoma. TicToc by Bloomberg / YouTube screenshot

Extreme weather spawned 18 tornadoes across five states Monday, USA Today reported. Tornadoes were reported in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arizona, but were not as dangerous as forecasters had initially feared, the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less
A woman walks in front of her water-logged home in Sriwulan village, Sayung sub-district of Demak regency, Central Java, Indonesia on Feb. 2, 2018. Siswono Toyudho / Anadolu Agency /Getty Images

A new study has more than doubled the worst-case-scenario projection for sea level rise by the end of the century, BBC News reported Monday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Matt Cardy / Stringer / Getty Images

The Guardian is changing the way it writes about environmental issues.

Read More Show Less
Blueberry yogurt bark. SEE D JAN / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Having nutritious snacks to eat during the workday can help you stay energized and productive.

Read More Show Less
A 2017 flood in Elk Grove, California. Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

By Tara Lohan

It's been the wettest 12 months on record in the continental United States. Parts of the High Plains and Midwest are still reeling from deadly, destructive and expensive spring floods — some of which have lasted for three months.

Mounting bills from natural disasters like these have prompted renewed calls to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which is managed by Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now $20 billion in debt.

Read More Show Less