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Ceiling Fan Makers Strive to Block Efficiency Rules They Once Sought

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Blackburn offered the policy rider to an appropriations bill saying ceiling fan companies cannot afford burdensome regulations that would drive up the price of products.

Hunter Fans has filed comments opposing the process, saying additional regulations could increase costs beyond what consumers are willing to pay. Manufacturers argue that ceiling fans are inherently energy efficient and that driving up the cost might push customers to turn to greater energy consumers, such as air conditioning, to cool their homes. The company has suggested that regulations be delayed “until there are further advances in fan technology.”

Blackburn, whose district once included Hunter Fans and now sits adjacent to it, said expanded regulations could prevent the company from producing reasonably priced, highly decorative fans. She likened the Energy Department’s proposal to the health care law and other Obama administration policies.

“First, they came for our health care,” she said on the House floor. “Then they took away our light bulbs, and raided our nation’s most iconic guitar company — now they are coming after our ceiling fans. Nothing is safe from the Obama administration’s excessive regulatory tentacles.”

Blackburn was joined in offering the amendment by Indiana Republican Todd Rokita, whose district is home to the ceiling fan manufacturer Fanimation Inc. The company’s leaders launched a nationwide campaign this spring to build public opposition to efficiency regulations.

“The Department of Energy’s proposed regulations on ceiling fans are absolutely counterproductive,” Rokita said. “They will encourage more energy consumption, they will reduce consumer choice and they have the potential to destroy jobs, including in Indiana.”

Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur argued that the amendment would undercut the mandate the Energy Department was given under the 2005 energy law. She said the Energy Department estimates that ceiling fan efficiency rules could reduce carbon output by 22 million metric tons and save consumers $4.3 billion in energy costs through 2030.

“I know that there’s a Hunter Fan Company located in Memphis, Tenn., so I imagine the gentlelady may be speaking on their behalf,” Kaptur said, in a reference to Blackburn. “That’s OK. That’s what we’re all here for. But the consumers out there also have a right to try to buy the most energy-efficient product.”

Energy efficiency proponents counter that Blackburn and the companies are acting prematurely and that safeguards are in place to protect the industry from unreasonable costs. In order to amend the standard, the Energy Department has to find that improved standards are technologically feasible and economically justified.

“New standards could save consumers a lot of money,” deLaski said. “You won’t know until you go through a public rule-making process. To deny that is a mistake.”

His group and the Alliance to Save Energy, which favors stronger energy standards, plan to fight the ceiling fan provision when the Senate when it takes up its version of spending bill (S 1245). The Senate measure reported out of committee is vastly different from the House measure, which the White House has threatened to veto.

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