by Mark Handzel

In issuing its final rule on an energy conservation standard for commercial and industrial water pumps, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates the net value of the rule to be between $74 million and $96 million per year. This estimate takes into account the energy savings from more efficient equipment and the benefits of emissions reductions during the 30-year period between 2020 and 2049.

The goal of the rule, which takes effect in 2020, is to improve security and reliability of the nation's energy system by reducing demand. According to the DOE, energy savings will produce environmental benefits by reducing emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases.

This rule will reduce pump operating costs and reduce carbon emissions related to power generation, but it will also have significant impact on pump manufacturers and their customers. The cost of pump hydraulic redesign, testing and new materials is estimated at $81.2 million through 2049, according to the DOE.

Manufacturers have been anticipating the changes since the first steps in 2011. Before this rule, no federal standards or test procedures existed for commercial and industrial pumps. The DOE states that the new standards will result in significant conservation of energy and that they are technologically feasible and economically justified. The department also said the final rule's standards will not result in adverse impacts on competition within the pump marketplace, significantly affect manufacturing capacity or lead to employment loss.

Pump industry experts engaged in the Hydraulic Institute (HI) have worked closely with the DOE through this years-long rulemaking process, offering unprecedented cooperation among government, environmental and industry leaders. With an estimated 20 percent or more of the electricity in the U.S. consumed by commercial and industrial water pumps, manufacturers acknowledge the need to create more energy-efficient products. Representing more than 450 pump manufacturers in 38 states, HI has worked to ensure the regulations meet efficiency standards without creating financial hardships for its members.

Although some U.S. manufacturers have taken steps toward greater efficiency through portfolio redesign, the lack of federal regulation has created inconsistency. The new regulations reflect those put in place in the European Union (EU) in 2009. HI's Pump Efficiency Expert Team, known as PEET, provided the DOE with extensive research about EU standards and other primary efficiency data relevant to the proposed changes.

HI's involvement included representation on the DOE Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC) Commercial and Industrial Pumps (CIP) Working Group. Members were tasked with developing efficiency and testing recommendations.

The 16-member CIP Working Group presented ASRAC with 14 recommendations, including a market and technology assessment and analyses of screening, engineering, energy use, markups, life-cycle cost and payback period, shipments, national impact, and manufacturer impact.

Covered Equipment

The standards target specific kinds of rotodynamic or centrifugal pumps designated for pumping clean water in a variety of commercial, industrial, agricultural and municipal applications. Circulators and pool pumps are not included in this ruling. While the pump efficiency guidelines include pump motors, these motors are already subject to energy conservation standards and are not further regulated. The new DOE standards address up to 70 percent of commercial and industrial pump energy use.

The following pump equipment classes are covered:

  • end-suction close-coupled pumps
  • end-suction frame-mounted pumps
  • in-line pumps
  • radially split, multistage, vertical, in-line casing diffuser pumps
  • submersible turbine (vertical turbine submersible pumps)

Manufacturers must use the DOE test procedure when certifying compliance with any applicable standard. These standards apply to equipment manufactured in or imported into the U.S. beginning in 2020.

The DOE's testing procedures allow manufacturers to group similar models within a basic model, but the efficiency rating of a basic model must be based on the least efficient or most energy-consuming individual model. Each model within the basic model must have the same certified efficiency rating and use the same test data. If the DOE determines a basic model is noncompliant, all models within it will be affected.

Only one technology/design option was included in the rule—improved hydraulic redesign. The DOE concluded that including hydraulic redesign is technologically feasible because equipment currently available on the market uses this technology option.

While determining efficiency standards, the DOE developed six efficiency levels, including a baseline level, for each equipment class. The department evaluated each trial standard level (TSL) until it found one that was technologically feasible and economically justified and that would save significant energy. The new standards follow TSL 2, the same level recommended by the CIP Working Group and approved by ASRAC.

Compliance will be costly for some, but many manufacturers are committed to efficiency improvements. Some are retiring lower-efficiency pumps and are redesigning or retooling existing lines. Manufacturers can redesign a noncompliant model or discontinue it.