Saturday, September 19, 2009

Proposed national legislation for Minimum Energy Performance and Labelling

The Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage issued a "Discussion Paper on proposed national legislation for Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and Energy Labelling" in August 2009. This is of relevance to the computer and telecommunications industries, as the legislation would cover "IT and Office Equipment", including Computers, laptops, monitors, and power supplies, as well as "Home Entertainment": Televisions, Set-top boxes, DVDs, Home theatre and "New technologies". The document is 28 pages of PDF (82 Kbytes). A public information forum will be held in Canberra on 21 September 2009.

There is also a covering document describing the process. Unfortunately, unlike the discussion paper itself, the covering document and the details of the discussion forum are in the form of PDF files which have been set to prevent copying, making it very difficult to distribute the information. It seems likely that this was an honest mistake by the Department, rather than a deliberate attempt to limit public access to the information.

Here are some excerpts from the paper:
Table of Contents


What is the purpose of this discussion paper?
The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) has released this discussion paper to provide background on proposed national MEPS
and Energy Labelling legislation to stimulate discussion and input by all stakeholders.

This paper poses a series of questions based around the high level objectives of the proposed national legislation, to encourage stakeholders to start thinking about the
proposed legislation. The list of questions is in no way an exhaustive list, and comments on other issues and matters of interest or concern are also welcome.
Feedback on this paper will be used in the development of a Consultation RIS.

What is the background to the proposed national legislation?
Standards and labelling are among the most cost effective and widely used measures to reduce energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the
world. Standards and labels for electrical appliances include:
  • MEPS which are regulated minimum energy efficiency levels that electrical products must achieve to be sold on the Australian or New Zealand markets,whether manufactured locally or imported from overseas, and
  • Energy labelling which enables consumers to compare the energy efficiency of electrical appliances on a fair and equitable basis. They also provide incentivesfor manufacturers to improve the energy performance of their appliances.
In Australia, mandatory energy labelling was first introduced for appliances by the New South Wales and Victorian Governments in 1986. Between 1986 and 1999,
most state and territory governments introduced legislation to mandate energy labelling.

Currently MEPS and energy labelling are developed under the National Framework on Energy Efficiency (NFEE), funded through the Ministerial Council on Energy
(MCE) and implemented through state, territory and New Zealand legislation. The states and territories have significant experience in successfully regulating
appliances and equipment.

The proposal to develop national legislation follows recent commitments in this area by both the Australian Government and the Council of Australian Governments
  • In October 2007, the Australian Government undertook to fast track the deployment of more energy efficient appliances as part of its Solar Schools – Solar Homes election commitment. A key element of this policy is to introduce greenhouse and energy minimum standards that ensure greenhouse benefits as well as energy savings are factored into standard setting (see Appendix I for more details).
  • In October 2008, COAG agreed to develop, subject to a RIS, national legislation for appliance energy performance standards and labelling to simplify enforcement and ensure consistency across all Australian jurisdictions (see Appendix II for more details).
  • In July 2009, COAG released the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency (NSEE) which proposes that the national MEPS and Energy Labelling legislation would be extended over time to cover greenhouse and energy minimum standards.
DEWHA has lead responsibility for progressing the national MEPS legislation in consultation with the states and territories through the MCE (see Appendices II
and III for more details).

The proposed legislation will build on the MEPS and energy labelling regime for electrical appliances and equipment that is currently managed nationally through the MCE and implemented through state and territory legislation.

Why do we need the proposed national legislation?
The current approach to MEPS and energy labelling is implemented through legislation in the states and territories. Over time, a number of issues have been
identified with the current approach, and the national legislation proposed through the NSEE provides an opportunity to:
  • provide a nationally consistent policy framework covering MEPS and energy labelling
  • streamline governance arrangements and regulatory processes
  • simplify compliance and enforcement responsibilities for all stakeholders
  • reduce transaction costs for business, and
  • give consumers confidence to make better choices.
What are the key objectives of the proposed national legislation?
The key objectives of the proposed national MEPS and energy labelling legislation are to:
  • provide a vehicle for expanding the MEPS and energy labelling program to improve the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment
  • achieve greater greenhouse gas reductions, and
  • deliver an efficient and consistent regulatory environment.
Why is regulatory impact analysis important?
Before products are included in the current MEPS and energy labelling program, a regulatory impact analysis (RIA) must be conducted to ensure that the benefits of
regulating those products outweigh the costs. A RIA takes into account the costs and benefits for industry, regulators and consumers. This process is designed to ensure that any new regulations are in the best interest of all Australians.

A RIA will be conducted for the proposed legislation and will include a comparison of the costs and benefits of different approaches to implementing the legislation. As part of the RIA, a consultation RIS will be developed and distributed so that all stakeholders can comment on it. These comments will then be addressed in a decision RIS. The decision RIS must be approved by the Office of Best Practice Regulation and is provided to Parliament with the Bill for the new legislation.

The consultation RIS for the proposed national MEPS and energy labelling legislation is expected to be released in late 2009. This will be the start of the second consultation round when stakeholders will again have the opportunity to comment on the proposed legislation. The decision RIS is expected to be finalised in March 2010.

Both the legislation itself and the inclusion of new products under the legislation will be subject to a RIA. This ensures that any new requirements, such as increasing MEPS levels or adding new products, are assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure their inclusion is in the best interests of all Australians ...

From: Discussion Paper on proposed national legislation for Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and Energy Labelling, Department of the Environment and Heritage, August 2009.

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