GAO: Energy Star program 'vulnerable to fraud and abuse'

Bob Tippee

If you planned to apply for an Energy Star rebate for that gasoline-powered alarm clock you’ve been admiring, you’re too late.

Although the high-octane timepiece received Energy Star certification for energy-use efficiency, it isn’t real. It’s one of 15 bogus projects for which the General Accountability Office won program approval in an investigation.

Administered by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star identifies products and buildings that use energy with superior efficiency.

It claims to have helped US energy consumers save nearly $17 billion on utility bills last year.

“Energy Star provides a trustworthy label on over 60 product categories (and thousands of models) for the home and office,” says the program web site.

But GAO found Energy Star to be “for the most part a self-certification program vulnerable to fraud and abuse.”

The fake projects for which it scored Energy Star labels were among 20 it submitted. It received rejections for two projects and no response for three.

GAO also won certification on a fictitious geothermal heat pump for which it claimed energy performance better than any other certified product. Energy Star didn’t question the data.

It also received approval of a phony computer monitor 30 min after applying. And a fake refrigerator “was submitted, qualified, and listed on the Energy Star web site within 24 hr,” GAO said.

“GAO found that for our bogus products, certification controls were ineffective primarily because Energy Star does not verify energy-savings data reported by manufacturers,” the agency said.

DOE and EPA officials told GAO after-market tests and self-policing are supposed to uphold standards. GAO didn’t check controls on products already certified and available for sale.

But it said earlier DOE and EPA inspector general and GAO reports “have found that current Energy Star controls do not ensure products meet efficiency guidelines.”

The GAO published its new report as $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act becomes available for state-administered rebates on purchases of Energy Star appliances.

DOE and EPA say they’ve started “enhanced testing” program and taken “enforcement actions” against companies that have violated program rules.

(Online Apr. 2, 2010; author’s e-mail:

Related Articles

BLM approves ROW for Elko gas pipeline expansion project

07/07/2015 The US Bureau of Land Management’s Tuscarora, Nev., field office signed a decision record approving a right-of-way for Paiute Pipeline Co.’s (PPC) ...

Obama urged by IPAA president to lift ban on US crude exports

07/07/2015 Commending the administration for its actions allowing some condensate to be exported as a petroleum product, Independent Petroleum Association of ...

AER shuts in 16 Murphy Oil sites in Peace River region for noncompliance

07/07/2015 Alberta Energy Regulator said it has shut in or partially shut in 16 sites operated by Murphy Oil Co. Ltd. in the Peace River region. The sites wer...

WAFWA: Aerial survey finds lesser prairie chicken population grew

07/06/2015 A recent range-wide aerial survey found the lesser prairie chicken population rose 25% from 2014 to 2015, the Western Association of Fish & Wil...

Macondo settlement seen ‘positive’ for BP

07/06/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc.’s recent agreement to settle federal and state claims related to the 2010 Macondo blowout and spill improves t...

Court to EPA: Costs matter

07/06/2015 Oil and gas groups did not respond immediately when the US Supreme Court ruled on June 29 that the US Environmental Protection Agency acted unreaso...

Innovation addresses US environmental regulations; more needed

07/06/2015 Technology spawned the recent boom in US oil and gas production which in turn led to new regulations that keep the environment and people safe.

Poor BIA management has hindered tribal energy development, GAO says

07/06/2015 The US Bureau of Indian Affairs does not have data it needs to verify ownership of some Indian oil and gas resources, easily identify resources ava...

US House committee leaders send letters to Plains, PHMSA about leak

07/06/2015 US House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders from both parties asked Plains Pipeline LP and the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Admini...
White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected