Home Energy

Consumer Groups Join in Lawsuit Against the Department of Energy

Energy Efficiency Delays Jeopardize Consumer Savings

Washington, D.C. – The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the Texas Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy (Texas ROSE) joined with environmental groups last Friday in a lawsuit against the Department of Energy for illegal delays of energy efficiency standards affecting ceiling fans. Several states have filed a separate lawsuit on the matter.

The ceiling fan rule was formally issued and published on January 19, 2017, to go into effect on March 20, 2017; however the Trump Administration delayed the effective date, first, until March 21, 2017 followed by a second notice of delay until September 30, 2017.

The groups are joining in this lawsuit for economic and legal reasons. They are challenging as contrary to law DOE’s efforts to thwart the ceiling fan rule. They are also concerned that failure to adopt cost-effective ceiling fan efficiency will cost consumers millions of dollars in energy savings. Efficiency standards have been proven repeatedly to save consumers money because the savings from reduced energy consumption far exceeds the cost of the technology needed to make the appliance more efficient.  In this case, the benefits are almost four times the cost with a net total value of over $12 billion dollars.

“As a matter of law and practice, the agencies issuing standards must consider all of the benefits and all of the costs,” Mark Cooper, CFA’s Director of Research said.  “The public relations ploy of citing only the costs and ignoring the benefits stops when the agency issues a rule.  The real facts take over and the reality is that energy efficiency standards have the unique effect of directly putting money into consumer pocketbooks.”

“Energy efficiency standards like these also have a macroeconomic multiplier effect.  For every dollar increase in consumer disposable income, there is an additional dollar of induced economic growth, because the multiplier of general consumer spending is much larger than the multiplier of spending on energy.  If you want to grow the economy, increasing energy efficiency is one of the best ways to do so,” Cooper concluded.

“Raising energy efficiency standards benefits all consumers with lower utility bills and conserves our energy resources. The DOE strategy should be to move up the effective date, not delay it.   More efficient ceiling fans installed in apartments and homes will do nothing but save struggling families money,” said Carol Biedrzycki, Executive Director of Texas Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy.

The delays of the implementation of the rule violate the law.  In a sense, the facts in this case present the most explicit test of whether the new administration will obey the law.  Although the first delay was just one day and distressing enough, the second delay is alarming. Many of the energy efficiency rules written over the past decade have come about because the courts could no longer tolerate the failure to comply with legally binding deadlines in the statue governing the setting of energy efficiency rules.  Therefore, it is particularly important to reinforce the principle that rules must be written in a timely fashion and should not be needlessly delayed.

“This case represents the purest example of needless and illegal delay,” said Cooper.  “The rule is faithful to the statute, was written in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act and saves consumers money. This is the perfect case to lay down the law.”

Contact: Mark Cooper, 301-384-2204


The Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.

Texas ROSE (Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy) is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to affordable electricity and a healthy environment for Texas families, many of them low income.