Odón de Beun
Director General
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Public Policy: the Backbone of Energy Efficiency

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 15:06

Q: CONUEE has succeeded in creating 29 energy efficiency norms. What best practices from other markets have you implemented?

A: We have been working on setting standards for the past 22 years. We already have 29 energy efficiency norms, close to 50 accredited laboratories, and six certification organizations. In addition, the Mexican Accreditation Entity (EMA) established a system for this, and we must continue convincing others to apply these same standards. There are two standards that apply to lighting systems in buildings and street lighting, and those are to be enforced by CFE in the contracting process. There are two others for building developments, one for housing and one for commercial buildings that should be enforced locally by municipalities. We are also trying to fulfill the standards that CONAVI and INFONAVIT require for their programs, especially in terms of subsidies and green mortgages.

CONUEE is holding ongoing dialogues regarding harmonization of standards with the US and Canada. In 2002, there was an effort to harmonize minimum performance standards and test procedures for three standards in the US, Canada, and Mexico. The North America Energy Working Group was in charge of overseeing the process, as agreed by an energy efficiency working group. Since then, two standards have changed in the US and we are behind in terms of guidelines for engines and refrigerators, while that of window air conditioners remains aligned with the rest of North America.

Q: What role do you play in terms of enforcing energy efficiency related norms and standards?

A: As a regulatory agency, CONUEE is a legal authority in terms of standards. We can provide support to energy users with information and technical assistance regardless of certain capacity limitations we face. CONUEE remains the authority for standards on refrigerators, stoves, and water heaters, among others. In the case of systems, we are still the authority, but we delegate to third parties. For lighting, we depend on CFE, which requires proof of compliance with the standards of its contracting process with new clients. If the requirements are not met, CFE will not grant contracts for commercial buildings or street lighting systems.

Regarding energy efficiency-related norms and standards, CONUEE is the main authority. In the case of products, the Ministry of Finance enforces these regulations for imported products at customs. For an item that must comply with a NOM and is already available on the local market but does not have a certificate to prove adherence, PROFECO can step in and prevent its sale. It is much easier for us to negotiate and use a more diplomatic approach rather than issuing sanctions. CONUEE has 130 people who are in charge of dealing with municipalities, CFE, buildings in the public sector, PEMEX, the building industry, and manufacturers, along with several other players.

Q: How do you help AAA companies to establish energy management systems?

A: CONUEE has a mandate to request information on energy usage rates from high-consumption energy users. This segment is comprised of close to 3,000 installations and frankly, we have had difficulties enforcing full compliance with this requirement because it had previously gone unenforced.

CONUEE is intensifying its promotion of energy management systems because there is a movement toward these practices on an international level. This program is operated by five players, but we have made alliances to strengthen our efforts. In fact, we are supported by the Danish government in providing assistance to companies here. There are also at least five private organizations with certification capacities in Mexico, and the German technical cooperation agency (GIZ) is now running a pilot project for ten medium-sized enterprises.

We are working on promoting energy management systems. For this purpose, we are using a concept that we have not fully developed, which consists of knowledge networks where various actors can support each other and share best practices. CONUEE also has tools like blogs and social media in order to inform as many people as it can about energy management systems and the practices of AAA companies. There are close to 3,000 high consumption energy users, and the ideal scenario would be one in which all 3,000 make efforts to mitigate damage to the environment.