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Rule Concerning Disclosures Regarding Energy Consumption and Water Use of Certain Home Appliances and Other Products Required Under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (“Appliance Labeling Rule”)

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

Federal Trade Commission amends its Appliance Labeling Rule by publishing new ranges of comparability to be used on required labels for clothes washers. These ranges of comparability supersede the ranges published on March 27, 2000, 65 FR 16132, which become effective July 14, 2000; however, manufacturers are not required to use those March 27, 2000 ranges.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

September 18, 2000.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

James Mills, Attorney, Division of Enforcement, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580 (202-326-3035).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Appliance Labeling Rule (“Rule”) was issued by the Commission in 1979, 44 FR 66466 (Nov. 19, 1979), in response to a directive in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. [1] The Rule covers eight categories of major household appliances. Clothes washers are among those categories. The Rule also covers pool heaters, 59 FR 49556 (Sept. 28, 1994), and contains requirements that pertain to fluorescent lamp ballasts, 54 FR 28031 (July 5, 1989), certain plumbing products, 58 FR 54955 ((Oct. 25, 1993), and certain lighting products, 59 FR 25176 (May 13, 1994, eff. May 15, 1995).

The Rule requires manufacturers of all covered appliances and pool heaters to disclose specific energy consumption or efficiency information (derived from the DOE test procedures) at the point of sale in the form of an “EnergyGuide” label and in catalogs. It also requires manufacturers of furnaces, central air conditioners, and heat pumps either to provide fact sheets showing additional cost information, or to be listed in an industry directory showing the cost information for their products. The Rule requires manufacturers to include, on labels and fact sheets, an energy consumption or efficiency figure and a “range of comparability.” This range shows the highest and lowest energy consumption or efficiencies for all comparable appliance models so consumers can compare the energy consumption or efficiency of other models (perhaps competing brands) similar to the labeled model. The Rule also requires manufacturers to include, on labels for some products, a secondary energy usage disclosure in the form of an estimated annual operating cost based on a specified DOE national average cost for the fuel the appliance uses.

Section 305.8(b) of the Rule requires manufacturers, after filing an initial report, to report certain information annually to the Commission by specified dates for each product type.[2] These reports, which are to assist the Commission in preparing the ranges of comparability, contain the estimated annual energy consumption or energy efficiency ratings for the appliances derived from tests performed pursuant to the DOE test procedures. Because manufacturers regularly add new models to their lines, improve existing models, and drop others, the data base from which the ranges of comparability are calculated is constantly changing. To keep the required information consistent with these changes, under Section 305.10 of the Rule the Commission will publish new ranges if an analysis of the new information indicates that the upper or lower limits of the ranges have changed by more than 15%. Otherwise, the Commission will publish a statement that the prior ranges remain in effect for the next year.

Manufacturers of clothes washers have made the required 2000 submissions of data for this product category. In analyzing the data, the Commission has grouped the figures in accordance with the revisions to Appendix F (Clothes Washers) published on March 27, 2000, 65 FR 16132, which eliminated the top-loading and front-loading categories for clothes washers.

Accordingly, the Commission is publishing these new 2000 ranges of comparability in the format of the revised Appendix for the clothes washer category. Today's ranges of comparability supersede the ranges (which were based on 1999 submissions) that were published along with the March 27, 2000 amendment eliminating the top-loading and front-loading categories, which have an effective date of July 14, 2000; however, manufacturers are not required to use those ranges.

In consideration of the foregoing, the Commission revises Appendix F of its Appliance Labeling Rule by publishing the following ranges of comparability for use in required disclosures (including labeling) for clothes washers manufactured on or after September 18, 2000. In addition, as of September 18, 2000, manufactured must base the disclosures of estimated annual operating cost required at the bottom of the EnergyGuide for clothes washers on the 2000 Representative Average Unit Costs of Energy for electricity (8.03 cents per kilo Watt-hour) and natural gas (68.8 cents per therm) that were published by DOE on February 7, 2000 Start Printed Page 30352(65 FR 5860), and by the Commission on April 17, 2000, 65 FR 20352.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act relating to a Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis (5 U.S.C. 603-604) are not applicable to this proceeding because the amendments do no impose any new obligations on entities regulated by the Appliance Labeling Rule. Thus, the amendments will not have a “significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities” (5 U.S.C. 605). The Commission has concluded, therefore, that a regulatory flexibility analysis is not necessary, and certifies, under Section 605 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), that the amendments announced today will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act (“PRA”), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., requires government agencies, before promulgating rules or other regulations that require “collections of information” (i.e., recordkeeping, reporting, or third-party disclosure requirements), to obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), 44 U.S.C. 3502. The Commission currently has OMB clearance for the Rule's information collection requirements (OMB No. 3084-0069). The amendment will not impose any new information collection requirements. Instead, it will provide manufacturers with revised ranges of comparability to use on the EnergyGuide labels already required by the Rule.

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List of Subjects in 16 CFR Part 305

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Accordingly,

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PART 305—[AMENDED]

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1. The authority citation for Part 305 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 42 U.S.C. 6294.

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2. Appendix F to Part 305 is revised to read as follows:

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Appendix F to Part 305—Clothes Washers

Range Information

“Compact” includes all household clothes washers with a tub capacity of less than 1.6 cu. ft. or 13 gallons of water.

“Standard” includes all household clothes washers with a tub capacity of 1.6 cu. ft or 13 gallons of water or more.

CapacityRange of estimated annual energy consumption (kWh/yr.)
LowHigh
Compact576607
Standard1771298

Cost Information

When the above ranges of comparability are used on EnergyGuide labels for clothes washers, the estimated annual operating cost disclosures appearing in the box at the bottom of the labels must be derived using the 2000 Representative Average Unit Costs for electricity (8.03¢ per kilo Watt-hour) and natural gas (68.8¢ per therm), and the text below the box must identify the costs as such.

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Donald S. Clark,

Secretary.

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Footnotes

1.  42 U.S.C. 6294. The statute also requires the Department of Energy (“DOE”) to develop test procedures that measure how much energy the appliances use, and to determine the representative average cost a consumer pays for the different types of energy available.

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2.  Reports for clothes washers are due March 1.

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[FR Doc. 00-11605 Filed 5-10-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-M