Bipartisan Senate Bill Would Help Increase Output of Transformers
With the strong backing of NAHB, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), along with several other senators, introduced legislation to help ease the severe shortage of distribution transformers that is delaying home building projects and raising housing costs.
The Distribution Transformer Efficiency & Supply Chain Reliability Act of 2024 would establish a new standard that allows manufacturers to increase energy efficiency standards for transformers in a manner that will not delay production at a time when chronic shortages are harming the housing sector.
“NAHB commends Sens. Brown and Cruz for their leadership in bringing forward this strong bipartisan legislation that will give producers flexibility in the manufacturing process to increase the efficiency of distribution transformers and allow them to ramp up production to meet historic demand,” said NAHB Chairman Alicia Huey.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed a rule that would marginally increase efficiency standards on distribution transformers and effectively require all distribution transformers to shift from the industry standard grain oriented electrical steel (GOES) cores to amorphous steel cores. GOES currently accounts for more than 95% of the domestic distribution transformer market, and manufacturers’ production lines are tooled for designs that use GOES. If the DOE proposal is enacted, it will further curtail the production of transformers at a time when they are needed now, more than ever.
The Senate bill would provide for increased energy efficiency of transformers, but at levels that preserve market opportunities for GOES as well as amorphous steel. Furthermore, the legislation would provide a phase-in window of 10 years before the new standard goes into effect to provide the certainty and time necessary for GOES and transformer supply chains to properly adapt to the new standards without further exacerbating supply-chain challenges.
Other bill cosponsors include Sens. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.).