PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The U.S. Department of Energy has committed itself to updating energy efficiency standards for four common commercial appliances by May of next year, preventing a legal showdown with authorities in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont and five other states.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says the deal was reached after federal energy officials missed legal deadlines for revising efficiency standards for walk-in coolers and freezers, metal halide lamps, electric motors and commercial refrigeration equipment.

Kilmartin says strengthening energy efficiency standards will save businesses and consumers an estimated $156 million per month. He says the measure will also lead to substantial cuts in pollution.

The deal commits the Department of Energy to propose new energy efficiency standards beginning in August and finalize them by May 2014.

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