The Motor and Generator Section of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Rosslyn, Va., will establish a Premium Motor energy-efficiency program.

Traditionally, there has been no industry consensus specification defining high efficiency or premium efficiency motors. Recent power-supply issues and utility deregulation have brought attention to the need to help motor users optimize motor-systems efficiency. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 imposed energy efficiency standards on many motors. Since then, many users have become confused over the lack of consistency in terms describing integral motor premium-efficiency performance.

By agreeing on a North American Premium Motor program, NEMA motor manufacturers expect this confusion to be greatly reduced. They anticipate demand for NEMA premium efficient motors will one day exceed demand for the current energy-efficient product required by the Energy Policy Act. Integral horsepower motors became an efficiency-regulated product under the act; minimum efficiency levels known as energy efficient were established for 1 horsepower to 200 horsepower, general-purpose motors. The Premium Motor program will go beyond the EPAct program to include motors up to 450 horsepower.

Experts believe NEMA Premium Motors will be specified by utility motor programs as replacements for older, failed motors because of an accompanying reduction in electrical energy consumption and improved reliability. Praising the proposed program, NEMA President Malcolm O'Hagan said, "A NEMA Premium Motor should be a welcome addition to the marketplace, setting a clear, voluntary energy efficiency specification for the industry, one that will be good for consumers, manufacturers, and the environment."

Using Department of Energy industrial motor research data, it's estimated that the NEMA Premium Motor program, including commercial and agricultural applications, would save 5.8 gigawatts of electricity and prevent the release of nearly 80 million metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere over the next ten years - the equivalent of keeping 16 million cars off the road in the next decade.

Member companies in the NEMA Motor and Generator Section include Emerson Electric, General Electric Co., Marathon/Lincoln, Siemens Energy and Automation, Toshiba International, Rockwell Automation, Sterling Electric, WEG Electric, Leeson Electric, Brook Crompton NA, ElectraGear, Ametek, Howell, Imperial Electric, Peerless Winsmith, SEW-Eurodrive and Onan Corp.

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