The ACCA and AHRI have differing opinions on the U.S. Energy Department’s decision to drop its rule mandating regional efficiency ratings for most U.S. residential furnaces that was to go into effect this spring.
That’s perhaps not surprising, considering one side negotiated with government to implement the standards and the other joined a lawsuit to stop them.
The Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s president and CEO, Paul T. Stalknecht, said the proposed settlement with government regulators is a good one.
“Should the court accept this settlement, this would be vindication for ACCA and its members," Stalknecht said. "Our comments during the rulemaking process outlining the additional costs to homeowners to properly address venting and condensate installation requirements of condensing furnaces were ignored. This settlement would restart the rulemaking for furnaces and allow ACCA to participate further in the process and for the DOE to recognize the problems associated with requiring condensing furnaces in the Northern region.”
The efficiency regulations, which would have changed the way HVAC equipment is manufactured, sold and installed nationwide, were the result of lengthy talks between the Obama administration, environmental groups and trade group Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute.
The AHRI’s support of federal regional standards was a major change for the group that represents most U.S. makers of HVAC equipment and it caused a break between the institute and other industry associations.
Soon after they the regulations were announced, the American Public Gas Association filed suit to stop them. The ACCA and the Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International joined the case.
As the May 1 implementation deadline approached, settlement negotiations between the Energy Department and the gas association had intensified, leading to Friday's settlement announcement.
AHRI President and CEO Stephen Yurek said his group was saddened by the news.
“While we are disappointed that our consensus agreement, on which our members and staff worked so hard and on which the direct final rule is based, will not be implemented in its entirety, we understand why the two principal parties of the lawsuit reached a settlement agreement,” Yurek said. “Our member companies will now prepare to implement those parts of the agreement that survived the suit.”
Rules taking effect in 2015 dealing with new efficiency standards for central air conditioners and heat pumps are not affected by the proposed settlement.
The ACCA and HARDI have 10 days to submit their opinions on the agreement before it is acted on by the court.