As part of what it calls “it’s commitment to rigorous enforcement,” the U.S. Department of Energy is fining 27 companies over $3.5 million for selling products without certifying that they meet energy and water efficiency standards, DOE announced Monday.
The companies, which include manufacturers, importers and resellers of appliances and plumbing and lighting products, can reduce their fines if they comply with certification requirements within 30 days.
If the companies fail to meet the certification requirements in 30 days, DOE said it will file actions either in the United States District Court or with an Administrative Law Judge to demand payment of the proposed penalties.
Sanyo Electronics has received the largest single fine of over $300,000 for failing to certify a number of refrigerator and freezer models. Other companies that received fines include Daewoo International, DeLonghi America, General Electric Appliances and Stiebel Eltron.
DOE said that its’ “aggressive energy efficiency enforcement” has resulted in 75 enforcement investigations and actions in the past year, including the 27 penalty cases. These investigations removed 66 products from the market that failed to meet federal energy efficiency standards, and lead to the certification of over 600,000 products, the agency said.
“This unprecedented number of cases reflects our commitment to enforce all aspects of the Department’s conservation standards,” said Scott Blake Harris, the DOE’s general counsel in a prepared statement.
According to the Federal Times, Harris, wrote on the agency blog that that when he arrived in his position, the agency was not enforcing 35-year old energy efficiency standards.
Harris said that these standards are a critical part of future national energy plans, and that increased enforcement is the minimum the agency can do, noting that prior to the enforcement actions, DOE had not brought any enforcement actions, or removed any products from the marketplace.
“Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has said that when it comes to remediating climate change and promoting energy independence, improved energy efficiency is not just low-hanging fruit—it’s fruit lying on the ground,” Harris wrote.
“The problem, of course, is that lax enforcement of energy efficiency standards undermines the goal of increased energy efficiency. When efficiency standards are not regularly enforced, bad actors soon learn that they can gain an unfair economic advantage over law-abiding competitors by falsely or improperly certifying the efficiency of their products. This not only distorts competition in the short-term, but it undermines the kind of long-term competition that drives innovation,” Harris added.
Under the Obama Administration, the DOE has established energy efficiency standards for more than twenty different product categories that it says will save consumers between $250 and $300 billion on their energy bills through 2030.