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Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Extension

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”).

ACTION:

Notice.

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SUMMARY:

The proposed information collection requirements described below will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) for review, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (“PRA”). The FTC is seeking public comments on its proposal to extend through September 30, 2007 the current PRA clearance for information collection requirements contained in its Appliance Labeling Rule (“Rule”), promulgated pursuant to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (“EPCA”). The clearance expires on September 30, 2004.

DATES:

Comments must be submitted on or before September 20, 2004.

ADDRESSES:

Interested parties are invited to submit written comments. Comments should refer to “Appliance Labeling Rule: Paperwork comment, R611004” to facilitate the organization of comments. A comment filed in paper form should include this reference both in the text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to the following address: Federal Trade Commission/Office of the Secretary, Room H-159 (Annex U), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580. If the comment contains any material for which confidential treatment is requested, it must be filed in paper form, and the first page of the document must be clearly labeled “Confidential.” [1] The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.

The FTC Act and other laws the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. All timely and responsive public comments will be considered by the Commission, and will be available to the public on the FTC Web site, to the extent practicable, at www.ftc.gov. As a matter of discretion, the FTC makes every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from the public comments it receives before placing those comments on the FTC Web site. More information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, may be found in the FTC's privacy policy, at http://www.ftc.gov/​ftc/​privacy.htm.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Requests for additional information or copies of the proposed information collection requirements should be addressed to Hampton Newsome, Attorney, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Division of Enforcement, Room 4616, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20580 (202-326-2889).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Under the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), Federal agencies must obtain approval from OMB for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. “Collection of information” means agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. 44 U.S.C. 3502(3) and 5 CFR 1320.3(c) As required by section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, the FTC is providing this opportunity for public comment before requesting that OMB extend the existing paperwork clearance for the Rule (OMB Control Number 3084-0069).

The FTC invites comments on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

The Appliance Labeling Rule (16 CFR Part 305) establishes testing, reporting, recordkeeping, and labeling requirements for manufacturers of major household appliances (refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, freezers, water heaters, clothes washers, dishwashers, room air conditioners, furnaces, central air conditioners, heat pumps, pool heaters, certain lighting products, and certain plumbing products). The requirements relate specifically to the disclosure of information relating to energy consumption and water usage. The Rule's testing and disclosure requirements enable consumers purchasing appliances to compare the energy use or efficiency of competing models. In addition, EPCA and the Rule require manufacturers to submit relevant data to the Commission regarding energy or water usage in connection with the products they manufacture. The Commission uses this data to compile ranges of comparability for covered appliances for publication in the Federal Register. These submissions, along with required records for testing data, may also be used in enforcement actions involving alleged misstatements on labels or in advertisements.

Burden Statement

Estimated annual hours burden: 445,000 hours.

The estimated hours burden imposed by Section 324 of EPCA and the Commission's Rule include burdens for testing (338,292 hours); reporting (1,324 hours); recordkeeping (767 hours); labeling (101,333 hours); and retail catalog disclosures (2,550 hours). The total burden for these activities is 445,000 hours (rounded to the nearest thousand), which is the same as staff's previous estimate in its 2001 submission to OMB.

The following estimates of the time needed to comply with the requirements of the Rule are based on census data, Department of Energy figures and estimates, general knowledge of manufacturing practices, and industry input and figures. Because compliance burden falls almost entirely on manufacturers and importers (with a de minimis burden for retailers), burden estimates are calculated on the basis of the number of domestic manufacturers and/or the number of units shipped domestically in the various product categories.

A. Testing

Under the Rule, manufacturers of covered products must test each basic model they produce to determine energy usage (or, in the case of plumbing fixtures, water consumption). The burden imposed by this requirement is determined by the number of basic models produced, the average number of units tested per model, and the time required to conduct the applicable test.

Manufacturers need not subject each basic model to testing annually; they must retest only if the product design changes in such a way as to affect energy consumption. The staff estimates that the frequency with which models are tested every year ranges roughly between 10% and 50% and that the actual percentage of basic models tested varies by appliance category. In addition, it is likely that only a small portion of the tests conducted is Start Printed Page 43589attributable to the Rule's requirements. Given the lack of specific data on this point, staff has conservatively assumed that all of the tests conducted are attributable to the Rule's requirements and will use the high end of the range noted above. Accordingly, the burden estimates are based on the assumption that 50% of all basic models are tested annually. Thus, the estimated testing burden for the various categories of products covered by the Rule is as follows [2] .

Category of manufacturerNumber of basic modelsPercentage of models tested (FTC required)Avg. number of units tested per modelHours per unit testedTotal annual testing burden hours
Refrigerators refrigerator-freezers, and freezers3,075502412,300
Dishwashers3935021393
Clothes washers50050221,000
Water heaters6505022415,600
Room air conditioners1,09250288,736
Furnaces1,900502815,200
Central A/C1,2705022430,480
Heat pumps9035027265,016
Pool heaters250502123,000
Fluorescent lamp ballasts97550435,850
Lamp products2,100501214176,400
Plumbing fittings1,70050223,400
Plumbing fixtures22,000501.0833917
338,292

B. Reporting

Reporting burden estimates are based on information from industry representatives. Manufacturers of some products, such as appliances and HVAC equipment (furnaces, central air conditioners, and heat pumps), indicate that, for them, the reporting burden is best measured by the estimated time required to report on each model manufactured, while others, such as makers of fluorescent lamp ballasts and lamp products, state that an estimated number of annual burden hours by manufacturer is a more meaningful way to measure. The figures below reflect these different methodologies as well as the varied burden hour estimates provided by manufacturers of the different product categories that use the latter methodology.

Appliances, HVAC Equipment, and Pool Heaters

Staff estimates that the average reporting burden for these manufacturers is approximately two minutes per basic model. Based on this estimate, multiplied by a total of 10,033 basic models of these products, the annual reporting burden for the appliance, HVAC equipment, and pool heater industry is an estimated 334 hours (2 minutes × 10,033 models ÷ 60 minutes per hour).

Fluorescent Lamp Ballasts, Lamp Products, and Plumbing Products

The total annual reporting burden for manufacturers of fluorescent lamp ballasts, lamp products, and plumbing products is based on the estimated average annual burden for each category of manufacturers, multiplied by the number of manufacturers in each respective category, as shown below:

Category of manufacturerAnnual burden hours per manufacturerNumber of manufacturersTotal annual reporting burden hours
Fluorescent lamp ballasts620120
Lamp products1550750
Plumbing products1120120

Total Reporting Burden Hours

The total reporting burden for industries covered by the Rule is 1,324 hours annually (334 + 120 + 750 + 120).

C. Recordkeeping

EPCA and the Appliance Labeling Rule require manufacturers to keep records of the test data generated in performing the tests to derive information included on labels and required by the Rule. As with reporting, burden is calculated by number of models for appliances, HVAC equipment, and pool heaters, and by number of manufacturers for fluorescent lamp ballasts, lamp products, and plumbing products.

Appliances, HVAC Equipment, and Pool Heaters

The recordkeeping burden for manufacturers of appliances, HVAC equipment, and pool heaters varies directly with the number of tests performed. Staff estimates total recordkeeping burden to be approximately 167 hours for these manufacturers, based on an estimated average of one minute per record stored (whether in electronic or paper format), multiplied by 10,033 tests performed annually (1 minute × 10,033 basic models ÷ 60 minutes per hour).[3]

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Fluorescent Lamp Ballasts, Lamp Products, and Plumbing Products

The total annual recordkeeping burden for manufacturers of fluorescent lamp ballasts, lamp products, and plumbing products is based on the estimated average annual burden for each category of manufacturers (derived from industry sources), multiplied by the number of manufacturers in each respective category, as shown below:

Category of manufacturerAnnual burden hours per manufacturerNumber of manufacturersTotal annual recordkeeping burden hours
Fluorescent lamp ballasts22040
Lamp products1050500
Plumbing products.512060

Total Recordkeeping Burden Hours

The total recordkeeping burden for industries covered by the Rule is 767 hours annually (167+40+500+60).

D. Labeling

EPCA and the Rule require that manufacturers of covered products provide certain information to consumers, through labels, fact sheets, or permanent markings on the products. The burden imposed by this requirement consists of (1) the time needed to prepare the information to be provided, and (2) the time needed to provide it, in whatever form, with the products. The applicable burden for each category of products is described below:

Appliances, HVAC Equipment, and Pool Heaters

EPCA and the Rule specify the content, format, and specifications for the required labels, so manufacturers need only add the energy consumption figures derived from testing. In addition, most larger companies use automation to generate labels, and the labels do not change from year to year. Given these considerations, staff estimate that the time to prepare labels for appliances, HVAC equipment, and pool heaters is no more than four minutes per basic model. Thus, for appliances, HVAC equipment, and pool heaters, the approximate annual drafting burden involved in preparing labels is 669 hours per year [10,033 (basic models) × 4 minutes (drafting time per basic model) ÷ 60 (minutes per hour)].

Industry representatives and trade associations have estimated that it takes between 4 and 8 seconds to affix each label to each product. Based on an average of 6 seconds per unit, the annual burden for affixing labels to appliances, HVAC equipment, and pool heaters is 83,522 hours [6 (seconds) × 50,113,098 (the number of total products shipped) ÷ 3,600 (seconds per hour)].

The Rule also requires that HVAC equipment manufacturers disclose energy usage information on a separate fact sheet or in an approved industry-prepared directory of products. Staff has estimated the preparation of these fact sheets requires approximately 30 minutes per basic model. Manufacturers producing at least 95 percent of the affected equipment, however, are members of trade associations [4] that produce approved directories (in connection with their certification programs independent of the Rule) that satisfy the fact sheet requirement. Thus, the drafting burden for fact sheets for HVAC equipment is approximately 102 hours annually [4,073 (basic models) × .5 hours × .05 (proportion of equipment for which fact sheets are required)].

The Rule allows manufacturers to prepare a directory containing fact sheet information for each retail establishment as long as there is a fact sheet for each basic model sold. Assuming that six HVAC manufacturers (i.e., approximately 5% of HVAC manufacturers), produce fact sheets instead of having required information shown in industry directories, and each spends approximately 16 hours per year distributing the fact sheets to retailers and in response to occasional consumer requests, the total time attributable to this activity would also be approximately 96 hours.

The total annual labeling burden for appliances, HVAC equipment, and pool heaters is 669 hours for preparation plus 83,522 hours for affixing, or 84,191 hours. The total annual fact sheet burden is 102 hours for preparation and 96 hours for distribution, or 198 hours. The total annual burden for labels and fact sheets for the appliance, HVAC, and pool heater industries is, therefore, estimated to be 84,389 hours (84,191 + 198).

Fluorescent Lamp Ballasts

The statute and the Rule require that labels for fluorescent lamp ballasts contain an “E” within a circle. Since manufacturers label these ballasts in the ordinary course of business, the only impact of the Rule is to require manufactures to reformat their labels to include the “E” symbol. Thus, the burden imposed by the Rule for labeling fluorescent lamp ballasts is minimal.

Lamp Products

The burden attributable to labeling lamp products is also minimal, for similar reasons. The Rule requires certain disclosures on packaging for lamp products. Since manufacturers were already disclosing the substantive information required under the Rule prior to its implementation, the practical effect of the Rule was to require that manufactures redesign packaging materials to ensure they include the disclosures in the manner and form prescribed by the Rule. Because this effort is now complete, there is no ongoing labeling burden imposed by the Rule for lamp products.

Plumbing Products

The statute and the Rule require that manufacturers disclose the water flow rate for plumbing fixtures. Manufacturers may accomplish this disclosure by attaching a label to the product, through permanent markings imprinted on the product as part of the manufacturing process, or by including the required information on packaging material for the product. While some methods might impose little or no additional incremental time burden and cost on the manufacturer, other methods (such as affixing labels) could. Thus, staff estimate an overall blended average burden associated with this disclosure requirement of one second per unit sold. Staff also estimate that there are approximately 9,000,000 covered fixtures and 52,000,000 fittings sold annually in the country. Therefore, the estimated annual burden to label plumbing products is 16,944 hours [61,000,000 (units) × 1 (seconds) ÷ 3,600 (seconds per hour)].

Total Burden for Labeling

The total labeling burden for all industries covered by the Rule is Start Printed Page 43591101,333 hours (84,389 +16,944) annually.

E. Retail Sales Catalogs Disclosures

The Rule requires that sellers offering covered products through retail sales catalogs (i.e., those publications from which a consumer can actually order merchandise) disclose in the catalog energy (or water) consumption for each covered product. Because this information is supplied by the product manufacturers, the burden on the retailer consists of incorporating the information into the catalog presentation.

In the past, staff has estimated that there are 100 sellers who offer covered products through paper retail catalogs. While the Rule initially imposed a burden on catalog sellers by requiring that they draft disclosures and incorporate them into the layouts of their catalogs, paper catalog sellers now have substantial experience with the Rule and its requirements. Energy and water consumption information has obvious relevance to consumers, so sellers are likely to disclose much of the required information with or without the Rule. Accordingly, given the small number of catalog sellers, their experience with incorporating energy and water consumption data into their catalogs, and the likelihood that many of the required disclosures would be made in the ordinary course of business, staff believe that any incremental burden the Rule imposes on these paper catalog sellers would be minimal.

Staff estimates that there are an additional 150 new online sellers of covered products who are subject to the Rule's catalog disclosure requirements. Many of these sellers may not have the experience the paper catalog sellers have in incorporating energy and water consumption data into their catalogs. Staff estimates that these online sellers each require approximately 17 hours per year to incorporate the data into their online catalogs. This estimate is based on the assumption that entry of the required information takes 1 minute per covered product and an assumption that the average online catalog contains approximately 1,000 covered products (based on a sampling of websites of affected retailers). Given that there is a great variety among sellers in the volume of products they offer online, it is very difficult to estimate such volume with precision. In addition, this analysis assumes that information for all 1,000 products is entered into the catalog. This is a conservative assumption because the number of incremental additions to the catalog from year to year is likely to be much lower after initial start-up efforts have been completed. The total catalog disclosure burden for all industries covered by the Rule is 2,550 hours (150 sellers × 17 hours annually).

Estimated annual cost burden: ($7,906,857 in labor costs and $3,519,422 in capital or other non-labor costs).

Labor Costs: Staff derived labor costs by applying appropriate estimated hourly cost figures to the burden hours described above. In calculating the cost figures, staff assumes that test procedures are conducted by skilled technical personnel at an hourly rate of $20.00, and that recordkeeping and reporting, and labeling, marking, and preparation of fact sheets, generally are performed by clerical personnel at an hourly rate of $10.75.

Based on the above estimates and assumptions, the total annual labor costs for the five different categories of burden under the Rule, applied to all the products covered by it, is $7,907,000 (rounded to the nearest thousand), derived as follows:

ActivityBurden hours per yearWage category hourly rateTotal annual labor cost
Testing338,292Skilled technical/$20$6,765,840
Reporting1,324Clerical/$10.7514,233
Recordkeeping767Clerical/$10.758,245
Labeling, marking, and fact sheet preparation101,333Clerical/$10.751,089,330
Catalog disclosures2,550Clerical/$10.7527,413
7,905,061

Capital or Other Non-Labor Costs: $3,519,000 (rounded), determined as follows:

Staff has examined the five distinct burdens imposed by EPCA through the Rule—testing, reporting, recordkeeping, labeling, and retail catalog disclosures—as they affect the 11 groups of products that the Rule covers. Staff has concluded that there are no current start-up costs associated with the Rule. Manufacturers have in place the capital equipment necessary—especially equipment to measure energy and/or water usage—to comply with the Rule.

Under this analysis, testing, recordkeeping, and retail catalog disclosures are activities that incur no capital or other non-labor costs. As mentioned above, testing has been performed in these industries in the normal course of business for many years as has the associated recordkeeping. The same is true regarding compliance applicable to the requirements for paper catalogs. Manufacturers and retailers who make required disclosures in catalogs already are producing catalogs in the ordinary course of their businesses; accordingly, capital cost associated with such disclosure would be minimal or nil. Staff recognizes that there may be initial costs associated with posting online disclosure, and it invites further comment to reasonably quantify such costs.

Manufacturers that submit required reports to the Commission directly (rather than through trade associations) incur some nominal costs for paper and postage. Staff estimates that these costs do not exceed $2,500. Manufacturers must also incur the cost of procuring labels and fact sheets used in compliance with the Rule. Based on estimates of 50,113,098 units shipped and 128,650 fact sheets prepared,[5] at an average cost of seven cents for each Start Printed Page 43592label or fact sheet, the total (rounded) labeling cost is $3,516,922.

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William E. Kovacic,

General Counsel.

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Footnotes

1.  Commission Rule 4.2(d), 16 CFR 4.2(d). The comment must be accompanied by an explicit request for confidential treatment, including the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. The request will be granted or denied by the Commission's General Counsel, consistent with applicable law and the public interest. See Commission Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

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2.  The following numbers reflect estimates of the basic models in the market. The actual numbers will vary from year to year. Since 2001, the Commission has not identified any changes in the number of basic models that would yield a significant increase in the total burden hours for testing. The average number of units tested per model and the hours per unit tested are based on information from industry sources.

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3.  The amount of annual tests performed is derived by multiplying the number of basic models within the relevant product categories by the average number of units tested per model within each category (the underlying information may be drawn from the table in Section A.).

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4.  These associations include the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association, and the Hydronics Institute.

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5.  The units shipped total is based on combined actual or estimated industry figures across all of the product categories, except for fluorescent lamp ballasts, lamp products, and plumbing products. Staff has determined that, for those product categories, there are little or no costs associated with the labeling requirements. The fact sheet estimation is based on the previously noted assumption that five percent of HVAC manufacturers produce fact sheets on their own. Based on total HVAC units shipped (10,291,965), five percent amounts to 514,598 HVAC units. Because manufacturers generally list more than one unit on a fact sheet, staff has estimated that manufacturers independently preparing them will use one sheet for every four of these 514,598 units. Thus, staff estimates that HVAC manufacturers produce approximately 128,650 fact sheets.

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[FR Doc. 04-16483 Filed 7-20-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-P