Seven Months and Counting

May 1, 2010
When I travel, I have an opportunity to meet many really smart people who have interesting viewpoints on the industry. Last month, I found myself in Fort

When I travel, I have an opportunity to meet many really smart people who have interesting viewpoints on the industry. Last month, I found myself in Fort Smith, Ark., visiting Baldor Electric Co. While on this visit, I learned something new (for me, anyway) about the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA).

EISA made headlines when it was enacted because it raised the fuel economy standards for motor vehicles. I knew that. What I didn't know was that EISA also mandates that motor manufacturers raise the minimum efficiency of the motors they produce to help save energy and reduce carbon emissions.

The deadline set for this is a mere seven months away: Dec. 19, 2010.

According to Baldor Senior Product Manager John Malinowski, whom I met on my visit, motor manufacturers are well aware of EISA's deadline and have products that comply or exceed its requirements available. He says some motor buyers haven't really gotten the word.

In an editorial he wrote for sister publication Machine Design in November 2009, Malinowski says, “Though electricity costs are rising as fast as those of gasoline, some people continue to rewind old, inefficient motors and buy motors that don't meet EISA efficiency levels.”

He explains that EISA will raise the efficiency levels of general-purpose, 1-to-200-hp motors built after Dec. 19, 2010. Many 1-to-200-hp and 201-to-500-hp motors previously not governed by efficiency standards of any sort will need to comply with the new levels.

In the editorial, he explains that EISA covers both standard motors built for sale from stock as well as most custom designs built for OEM use in the U.S.

“EISA specifies that general-purpose-rated motors from 1 to 200 hp work at nominal full-load efficiency levels spelled out as NEMA Premium efficiency, listed in the MG 1 NEMA standard,” he writes.

“It is also noteworthy that 201- to 500-hp motors, which weren't previously covered by efficiency mandates, now must comply with energy efficiencies as defined by a NEMA table. Motors with lower efficiency built before Dec. 19, 2010, may continue to be sold and used. However, they cannot be built for sale in the U.S. after that date.”

Malinowski describes how EISA impacts NEMA premium motors, as well as cast-iron motors. The important thing is that motors that do comply with EISA tend to be larger and more expensive than their older counterparts.

This impacts not only refrigeration-product manufacturers that use electric motors in their equipment, but also systems and design engineers working in the replacement markets.

Case in point: He says, “Distributors stocking new motors will need to make some accommodations. That's because their advanced inventory systems cannot use the same SKUs for old motors and new EISA versions. Inventory will be mixed for awhile, and the result could be a mess.

“All in all, when evaluating the trade-offs between motor cost and energy efficiency, we would do well to remember the old TV commercial that said, ‘You can pay me now or pay me later.’ Motor cost accounts for only about three percent of the total life cyle cost, but electricity accounts for over 95 percent. And nobody expects electricity costs to go down over the next few years,” Malinowski says.

To read his entire editorial, go to And remember, this change is a mere seven months away.

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