DOE Rulemaking 101
The Making of Standards - DOE Style
Ever wonder how a standard is made? If a DOE rulemaking were a recipe, it would look something like this: Put all the ingredients out on the table, mix in a good amount of analysis, add a healthy dose of public comment, warm up a preliminary decision, sprinkle with more comments and analysis, and cook until a final decision is ready. From start to finish, it’s about 3 years to the fully-cooked decision. DOE has been revising the recipe to shorten the prep and baking time, however, unlike a typical recipe, several steps are required by law. For example, DOE must publish notices in the Federal Register, hold public hearings, and have open comment periods.
What follows is DOE’s recipe for making a standard:
Framework Document: The Framework Document outlines the scope of the rulemaking and explains the relevant analyses that DOE anticipates conducting to determine whether to amend the standards, as well as for the development of any amended standards. The Framework Document essentially casts a broad net over the many issues which the rulemaking might encompass and asks for feedback from stakeholders.
Preliminary Technical Support Document (PTSD) – DOE discusses methodologies and results of the preliminary technical analyses and indicates the scope and type of rule it might propose, holds a hearing and requests comments. The preliminary analyses include an analysis of the costs to achieve higher efficiency levels; an analysis of the life-cycle cost savings and payback period of higher efficiency levels from the perspective of an individual consumer or business; and a national impact analysis of the potential national energy savings and net present value (NPV) of higher efficiency levels.
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) – DOE provides the results of the revised technical analyses and additional analyses, proposes standard levels for the products, holds a hearing, and requests final comments. The additional analyses for the NOPR include a manufacturer impact analysis, a utility impact analysis, an employment impact analysis, and an environmental assessment.
Final Rule - The final rule is published and, usually, the standard goes into effect three years later, though some effective dates can be sooner or later than three years after the new standard is published.
- In some cases, DOE must first determine whether or not standards are warranted for a particular product. They conduct an analysis and issue a determination indicating whether standards are warranted.
- The final result of a standards rulemaking may be a DOE decision to leave a standard unchanged if no improvements are warranted at that time.
- Though DOE usually issues Framework Documents and Preliminary Technical Support Documents, these steps are not legally required and DOE may choose to omit one or both steps if recent technical work provides a firm foundation for a NOPR.
- The hearings are held in Washington, DC at DOE’s offices. Some hearings have webinar access to allow stakeholders to participate remotely.