GAO Finds Incompetence and Fraud in EPA Energy Star Program
While much of the Energy Star program is sound, and has led to real quantifiable energy savings over time, over the last four years, alarm bells have been sounding on the increasingly lax certification process. Just how lax? A gasoline-powered alarm clock the size of a microwave was one of the more ridiculous items able to get an automated label in a year-long undercover sting operation by the General Accounting Office.
Alarms had been sounding for the last 4 years, leading up to a year long investigation that uncovered the flawed certification process. So this month, the EPA and the DOE announced that it will begin a long overdue overhaul of certification processes to get the EnergyStar program back on track.
For the first time, all products seeking the EnergyStar label will be tested in approved labs and require manufacturers to participate in an ongoing verification testing program to will ensure continued compliance.
Beginning in June, the GAO ran a 12 month test. The just completed year-long test has indeed conclusively determined that manufacturers could obtain EnergyStar partnership and product certification even for products not meeting the supposed efficiency requirements.
The GAO found that companies can easily submit fictitious energy-efficiency claims in order to obtain qualification for a broad range of consumer products.
The program has primarily been a self-certification program relying on corporate honesty and industry self-policing to protect the integrity of the energy efficiency label. But now it appears that it is time to put in place a rigorous certification process based on independent testing.
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