Update: NEMA energy efficient motor initiatives

National lectrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is helping to increase energy savings by encouraging purchase of the most energy efficient motor available, including the strategy of making replacements instead of repairs.


Arlington, VA National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is helping to increase energy savings by encouraging purchase of the most energy efficient motor available, including the strategy of making replacements instead of repairs. Petra Smeltzer, NEMA manager of energy and environment, provided the following summary, as of June 11.

American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and NEMA jointly negotiated a proposed increase in the energy efficiency standards for motors. Then the organizations submitted a proposal to the U.S. Congress to add provisions to federal energy legislation to increase the energy efficiency “standards” for industrial motors to take effect 36 months from the date of enactment, and to include a “purchaser tax incentive” the three years that lead up to that “enhanced efficiency standards ” effective date.

The U.S. Senate has incorporated language into the “Energy Savings Act of 2007” for the standards portion of the ACEEE / NEMA proposal. NEMA remains optimistic that the House Energy & Commerce Committee will incorporate this language into its energy bill.

The consensus proposal expands motor efficiencies in three important ways:

  • Increases the minimum efficiency standards for the 1-200 hp category to the “NEMA Premium” levels;

  • Adds seven motor designs in the 1-200 hp range that were excluded from the EPAct 1992 law (US. Energy Policy Act) to current federal efficiency levels; and

  • Adds general purpose motors 201-500 hp to current federal efficiency levels.

The new standards would raise the efficiency levels of all general purpose, poly-phase integral horsepower motors.It would raise those motors covered by U.S. federal efficiency standards under EPAct 1992 up to NEMA premium efficiency level (Table 12-11 of NEMA Standards Publication MG-1). This level of efficiency is already required for new motors acquired for Federal facilities by the purchasing guidelines of the Federal Energy Management Program. Efficiency standards would be enacted for two categories of low voltage integral hp poly-phase motors not currently covered under federal law. They include:

  • Seven types of definite purpose electric motors sized from 1-200 hp and should meet the efficiency standards currently applicable to general purpose motors of the same size. These are: U-frame motors [horsepower and speed], design C motors, close-coupled pumps, footless motors, vertical solid shaft normal thrust [tested without thrust bearings losses in a horizontal configuration), 201-500 hp nominal efficiency and speeds per MG1 [12-11] , 8-pole motors (~900 rpm) and nominal efficiency per MG1 [12-11], and all voltages up to 600 V.

  • Both general purpose and definite purpose motors of 201-500 hp should meet efficiency levels specified in NEMA Standards Publication MG-1 (2003), Table 12-10, for motors larger than 200 hp.

NEMA now seeks support for the end-user tax incentive from Members of the Ways and Means Committee. The motor purchaser tax incentive would function as a transitional incentive that would last 3 years to spur the market demand for more energy efficient motors until the legislation would become effective.

If enacted, incentive-based motor replacement is estimated to achieve substantial savings as early as 2010, as well as greatly expand the scope of motors covered by enhanced energy efficiency standards. The proposal would measurably decrease the demand for electricity, having direct environmental benefits of reducing 80,000 metric tons of carbon over the life of a new NEMA premium efficiency motor.

The tax incentive is intended to make the purchase of the most highly efficient motor cost-effective, and therefore more attractive to industrial and commercial users than a less energy efficient “business as usual” repair of an older electric motor.

Edited by Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief

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