Energy

DOE Comment Deadline: Energy Conservation Standards for Evaporatively-Cooled Commercial Package Air Conditioners and Water-Cooled Commercial Package Air Conditioners

The Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is initiating an effort to determine whether to amend the current energy conservation standards for evaporatively-cooled commercial package air conditioners and water-cooled commercial package air conditioners (referred to as evaporatively-cooled commercial unitary air conditioners (ECUACs) and water-cooled commercial unitary air conditioners (WCUACs)). Under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, as amended, DOE must review these standards at least once every six years and publish either a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NOPR”) to propose new standards for ECUACs and WCUACs or a notice of determination that the existing standards do not need to be amended.

This request for information (“RFI”) solicits information from the public to help DOE determine whether amended standards for ECUACs and WCUACs would result in significant additional conservation of energy and whether such standards would be technologically feasible and economically justified. DOE welcomes written comments from the public on any subject within the scope of this document (including topics not raised in this RFI).

Members of the public may submit comments online at Regulations.gov, or by email or postal mail. More information is available at this Federal Register notice.

DOE Comment Deadline: Basic Research Initiative for Microelectronics

The Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science (DOE-SC), is seeking information and comments around its considered launch of a multi-program basic research initiative in support of microelectronics and semiconductor sectors. The participating program offices in DOE-SC invite interested parties to provide input on the topical areas, innovation mechanisms, impact, and potential collaborations, including public-private partnerships, that could be implemented under this initiative. DOE-SC is particularly interested in ways in which unique DOE facilities, expertise and capabilities can be leveraged to support US continued global innovation and leadership in this field.

For decades DOE-SC has been at the leading edge of microelectronics and semiconductor-based technology innovations, both as a consumer and as an engine of scientific understanding that has enabled many of the technological breakthroughs adopted by industry. Since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1960, advances in microelectronics have followed Moore's Law and other scaling laws, leading to circuit density and device performance improvements of 109 over this time period. In turn, strong commercial demand fueled the pace of scaling, and assured that the needs of DOE-SC facilities were met.

Today, the end of Moore's Law, along with the emergence of new computing workloads, new materials and devices, and new models of computation, have resulted in an unprecedented need and opportunity to “redesign” the innovation process. As highlighted in the SC-sponsored Basic Research Needs for Microelectronics workshop, to enable continued advances in computing and power technologies, a fundamental rethinking is needed of the science behind the materials and chemistry, physics, synthesis and fabrication technologies, architectures, algorithms, modeling, simulation, and design software tools. Could we replace the historical roadmaps with co-design collaborations among software developers, computer architects, circuit designers, device physicists, materials scientists, and chemists to guide a new R&D strategy? The outcome of such an “end-to-end co-design framework” could fundamentally reshape future high performance computing, sensing, data analytics, artificial intelligence, power conversion and control, and other electronics-intensive applications.

DOE-SC supports robust basic research portfolios and scientific user facilities for chemical, physical, mathematical, computational sciences, and modeling/simulation. DOE-SC is poised at the convergence of these scientific disciplines, in a unique position to play a critical role in the advancement of microelectronic technologies over the coming decades. In addition, the success and impact of DOE-SC facilities (e.g. high-performance computers, x-ray and neutron scattering centers, and high energy physics experiments) will be dependent upon the resultant capabilities in computing, sensing, power, and communications.

DOE-SC is considering the launch of a basic research Microelectronics R&D initiative with emphasis on the following broad areas:

  • Materials, chemistry, surface science, and plasma science/technology
  • Device physics and circuits
  • Component integration, architecture, and algorithms
  • Next-generation tools for synthesis, fabrication, and characterization

Investments in these areas will provide foundational support for U.S. leadership in key technology growth areas, including the following:

  • Memory and Reconfigurable Systems
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  • Edge Computing, Sensors, and the Internet of Things
  • Power Electronics, the Electricity Grid, and Cyber Physical Systems
  • Energy Efficiency of Computation and Packaging

Members of the public may submit comments online at Regulations.gov. More information is available at this Federal Register notice.

DOE Comment Deadline: Planning and Operation Models and Data Analytics for Solar Grid Integration

The Department of Energy (DOE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), is issuing this request for information (RFI) to solicit feedback from industry, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, and other stakeholders. This RFI will inform SETO's strategic planning on research related to the integration of distributed solar energy resources. Specifically, this RFI will inform strategies relating to the modeling, monitoring, predicting, and controlling of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. As the penetration of solar PV on the grid grows, these strategies will become more important as grid operators consider how solar adoption impacts grid planning and operations technologies.

The main focus is enabling high penetration of distributed behind-the-meter and small-scale solar generation and decrease its curtailment through better data acquisition and its numerical analysis. 

Members of the public may submit comments via email. More information is available at this Federal Register notice.

FERC Comment Deadline: Reliability Technical Conference

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) convened a Commissioner-led technical conference on June 27, 2019, to discuss policy issues related to the reliability of the Bulk-Power System.

All interested persons are invited to file post-technical conference comments on the topics concerning the reliability of the Bulk-Power System discussed during the technical conference, including the questions listed in the Final Notice issued on July 3, 2019. Commenters need not respond to all questions asked. Commenters should organize responses consistent with the numbering of the questions and identify to what extent their responses are generally applicable. Commission staff reserves the right to post additional follow-up questions related to those panels if deemed necessary. In addition, commenters are encouraged, when possible, to provide specific examples and data in support of their answers.

Members of the public may submit comments online at the FERC website or via mail. More information is available at this Federal Register notice.

CEQ Comment Deadline: Draft National Environmental Policy Act Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) within the Executive Office of the President is seeking comments on its draft guidance on how National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis and documentation should address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This Draft National Environmental Policy Act Guidance on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, if finalized, would replace the final guidance CEQ issued on August 1, 2016, titled “Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews,” which was withdrawn effective April 5, 2017 for further consideration pursuant to Executive Order 13783 of March 28, 2017, “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.”

On July 24, 2019 (84 FR 35607), the CEQ extended the comment deadline from July 26, 2019, to August 26, 2019.

Members of the public may submit comments online at Regulations.gov or by postal mail. More information is available at this Federal Register notice.

CDC Comment Deadline: Mining Automation and Safety Research Prioritization

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently established a research program to address the rapidly expanding area of automation and associated technologies in mining. NIOSH is requesting information to inform the prioritization of research to be undertaken by the institute's Mining Program. NIOSH reopening its opportunity to provide input on priority gaps in knowledge regarding the safety and health implications of humans working with automated equipment and associated technologies in mining, with an emphasis on worker safety and health research in which NIOSH has the comparative advantage, and is unlikely to be undertaken by other federal agencies, academia, or the private sector.

Of note, the original request for comment closed on May 17, 2019, but on June 24, 2019, NIOSH reopened and extended the comment deadline to August 23, 2019.

The mining industry has been undergoing significant changes as companies look to adopt automation technologies to decrease costs and increase efficiency and, according to some companies, improve safety. These new technologies include automated mobile equipment, robotics, teleoperation, wireless communications and sensing systems, wearable sensors and computers, virtual and augmented reality, and data analytics. Surface iron ore mines in Western Australia are moving rapidly to adopt automation technologies, and they appear to be the closest in achieving completely autonomous mining. In U.S. mines, the adoption of automation technology is gaining momentum, with some of the first automation having been applied to processing facilities, drilling equipment, underground coal mine longwalls, and now pilot projects with automated haulage trucks and loaders.

To prepare for expanded use of automation technologies, NIOSH seeks to both proactively address worker health and safety challenges that may be associated with automation, as well as leverage new technologies to improve miner health and safety. To understand the state of automation technologies, their implementation in the United States, and the health and safety concerns associated with the technology, NIOSH seeks public input on the following questions:

  1. To what extent will automation and associated technologies be implemented in mining and in what timeframe?
  2. What are the related health and safety concerns with automation and associated technologies in mining?
  3. What gaps exist in occupational health and safety research related to automation and associated technologies?

While the above questions have priority, NIOSH also seeks public comment on the state of the technology and the health and safety concerns associated with the following specific topics related to automation:

  1. What are the major safety concerns associated with humans working near or interacting with automated mining equipment? Have other organizations addressed the safety concerns associated with humans working near or interacting with automated mining equipment? If yes, please provide a description.
  2. What research has been conducted, or approaches taken, to address the potential for human cognitive processing confusion, misunderstanding, and task or information overload associated with monitoring or controlling automated mining equipment or other monitoring systems (e.g., fleet management, environmental monitoring, safety systems, health care systems)?
  3. What is the state of the art for display methodologies and technologies to provide mine personnel and equipment operators with information on operational status, location, and sensory and environmental feedback from automated mining equipment or systems?
  4. What sensor technology improvements are needed to ensure the safety of humans working on or near automated equipment?
  5. How are existing methods of big data analytics applied to automated mining equipment or systems? Are there health and safety benefits to these applications? If yes, please describe.
  6. Are there any needed improvements to guidelines or industry standards for automated mining system safe design and operation practices? If yes, please describe.
  7. Are there any needed improvements to training materials, training protocols, and operating procedures for system safety design principles related to automated mining systems? If yes, please describe.

NIOSH is seeking feedback on the research areas identified above and on any additional knowledge gaps, ideas, innovations, or practice improvements not addressed by these research areas, as well as feedback on how the research areas should be prioritized. NIOSH is especially interested in any creative and new ideas as they relate to protecting the health and safety of miners today and in the future. When possible, NIOSH asks that commenters provide data and citations of relevant research to justify their comments. NIOSH is also seeking key scientific articles addressing worker safety and health related to mining automation that could inform our research activities.

Comments may be submitted online at Regulations.gov or by mail. For more information regarding this comment deadline, please see this Federal Register notice.

EPA Nomination Deadline: Support for the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee for the Particulate Matter and Ozone Reviews

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scientific Advisory Board, requests public nominations for a pool of scientific consultants to support the chartered Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) by providing subject matter expertise, as requested, on the scientific and technical aspects of air quality criteria and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) and ozone.

These consultants will review science and policy assessments, and related documents, and will make themselves available, as requested, to provide feedback to the Chartered CASAC as part of EPA's review of the PM and Ozone NAAQS. The Chartered CASAC will provide advice to the EPA Administrator in a manner consistent with the Clean Air Act, Federal Advisory Committee Act, and CASAC's charter. These consultants should be available for consultation, through CASAC's Chair and Designated Federal Official. Chartered CASAC members will have the opportunity to seek input from consultants through written requests provided to CASAC's Chair and facilitated by the Designated Federal Official.

The EPA is seeking nominations of scientists with demonstrated expertise and research in the field of air pollution related to PM and ozone, including:

  • Air quality, atmospheric science and chemistry (including ambient measurements and satellite remote sensing aerosol optical depth analysis);
  • exposure assessment (including dispersion modeling, photochemical grid modeling, and errors-in-variables methods and effects of exposure/covariate estimation errors on epidemiologic study results);
  • dosimetry;
  • toxicology;
  • comparative toxicology (including extrapolation of findings in animals to humans);
  • controlled clinical exposure;
  • epidemiology (including low-dose causal concentration-response functions);
  • biostatistics;
  • human exposure modeling;
  • causal inference;
  • biological mechanisms of causation;
  • risk assessment/modeling;
  • multi-stressor interactions;
  • ecology and effects on welfare and the environment;
  • and effects on visibility impairment, climate, and materials.

Members of the public may submit nominations by email. More information is available at this Federal Register notice.

DOD Comment Deadline: Environmental Impact Statement Addressing Heat and Electrical Generation and Distribution Upgrades at Fort Wainwright, Alaska

The Department of Defense (DOD), Department of the Army, announces its intent to conduct public scoping under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and solicit public comments to gather information to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to address heat and electrical generation and distribution upgrades at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

The current condition of the heat and power plant, one of the oldest coal-fired central heat and power plants (CHPP) in the United States, and its aging heat distribution system requires an upgrade to provide reliable heat and electrical infrastructure for the installation that resolves safety, resiliency, fiscal, and regulatory concerns. The scoping process will help identify reasonable alternatives, potential environmental impacts, and key issues of concern to be evaluated in the EIS. Based on the information presented in the EIS, the Department of the Army will determine which of the identified heat and power generating alternatives would be implemented.

Members of the public may submit comments by mail or email, or online at Regulations.gov. More information is available at this Federal Register notice.

OSHA Comment Deadline: Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) seeks public comment on its proposal to modernize the control of hazardous energy (Lockout/Tagout) standard. The standard's purpose is to protect workers from the dangers of hazardous energy. This comment opportunity seeks information regarding two areas where modernizing the Lockout/Tagout standard might better promote worker safety without additional burdens to employers: control circuit type devices and robotics.

OSHA's Lockout/Tagout standard currently requires that all sources of energy, including energy stored in the machine itself, be controlled during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment using an energy-isolating device (EID). Control circuit type devices are specifically excluded from OSHA's definition of an EID and are thus not a compliant method of controlling hazardous energy during service and maintenance activities. But technological advances since the standard was issued in 1989 suggest that, at least in some circumstances, control circuit type devices may be at least as safe as EIDs. OSHA requests information, data, and comments that would assist the agency in determining under what conditions control circuit type devices could safely be used for the control of hazardous energy.

OSHA may also consider changes to the Lockout/Tagout standard that address hazardous energy control for new robotics technologies. Employers are increasingly using robots and robotic components in their workplaces. OSHA would like to know more about what hazards and benefits this presents with respect to control of hazardous energy, safeguards that can be used, increased efficiencies that result, and any other information related to ensuring employee safety in interfacing with robots. OSHA will use the information received in response to this request for information to determine what action, if any, it may take to reduce regulatory burdens while maintaining worker safety.

Members of the public may submit comments online at Regulations.gov, or by mail or fax. More information is available at this Federal Register notice.