D.C. Interested In DC Building Power

April 07, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

The Appliance Standards Improvement Act of 2009 (S. 598), introduced by Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, includes provisions that would require the Department of Energy (DoE) to conduct a study and report to Congress on the costs and benefits of requiring dc electricity supply in buildings.

This bill is intended to strengthen and improve two Federal efficiency programs that have a 20-year record of success: the Department of Energy’s appliance standards program and the joint DOE-EPA Energy Star program. It also focuses on dc power distribution, an area Darnell Group has identified as an important future opportunity for power electronics and the subject of Darnell’s new Green Building Power Forum (GBPF).

"DC Power Networks in Buildings: A Look From the Outside In," which will be presented by Paul Savage, CEO, Nextek Power Systems, at the GBPF is emblematic of the strong interest in this emerging area of technology. Nextek Power Systems was a founding member of the EMerge Alliance, an open industry association "promoting the rapid adoption of safe, low voltage DC power distribution and use in commercial building interiors."

DOE’s appliance standards program targets the low-end of the efficiency spectrum by establishing national minimum energy efficiency standards for dozens of products. Standards phase out the production and sale of the least efficient models of a product. The Energy Star program, in contrast, targets the high-end of the efficiency spectrum, using labeling and marketing to promote the development and sale of highly efficient products, including major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics and more.

"These two programs have been among our country’s most effective tools for reducing energy demand, helping us all save money and protect the environment," Bingaman said. "For more than two decades, they have saved Americans billions of dollars through reduced energy costs. Further improving the efficiency of household and commercial products, which our bill tries to do, remains one of the most cost-effective strategies for further energy savings."

"For far too long we’ve let bureaucracy stand in the way of implementing consensus standards for appliance efficiency that can save consumers money and put us further along the path toward energy security," Murkowski said.

According to a joint-statement by the Senators, "Some experts see an opportunity for increased efficiency by supplying DC because of fast growth in its use in computers, battery chargers, and other ’plug in’ products. However, DC must be transformed, at significant energy loss, from AC supplies. This study would provide expert opinion on whether there are significant savings and a Federal role in promoting DC supplies."

Information on the Green Building Power Forum can be found here . Information on the EMerge Alliance can be found here .