August 2008 Electrical Apparatus

August 2008 Electrical Apparatus

This is a summary of the Electrical Apparatus August 2008 featured technical article,  by Richard L. Nailen, P.E.    

Energy conservation advocates, such as the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), actively promoted user acceptance of the “Premium” product. Its higher price, however, resulted in limited market share. Conservationists were also frustrated by EPACT’s narrow scope, which left out eight-pole motors, all ratings above 200 hp, and a number of mechanical offshoots of standard horizontal designs, such as close-coupled pump motors.

A step forward in 2005 was passage of a second Energy Policy Act, stipulating that NEMA Premium motors were to be the “product of choice” in federal procurement. But again, that market was limited.

Finally, after many months of Congressional deliberation, the Energy Independence and Security Act became law in December 2007. Although public attention was drawn primarily to provisions dealing with automotive fuel economy and renewable fuel production, the 2007 Act considerably broadened the regulation of motor efficiency. Its requirements, to become effective at the end of 2010, include:
*Energy efficient (EPACT) performance is now mandatory for many motors formerly exempt, including eight-pole ratings (for which NEMA had defined higher efficiencies but the 1992 law had not); U-frame designs; and NEMA Design C.
*For those ratings within the EPACT scope, the 2007 legislation raises the required efficiencies to NEMA Premium levels (which have not been defined for 8-pole designs or for NEMA Design C).

Meanwhile, CEE recommends that electric utilities and governmental energy agencies develop or enhance incentive programs to encourage wider use of NEMA Premium (or better) low-voltage motors still outside legislative jurisdiction, in ratings from 250 through 500 hp. According to the Department of Energy’s own 1998 market assessment, motors above 200 hp (3/4 of them in the 250-500 hp range) make up only 1% of the market but account for 45% of energy usage.

Can efficiencies continue to escalate, whatever the incentive? The ACEEE doubts it. Certainly each incremental increase tends to be smaller than the last, and at higher cost.

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