The ongoing lawsuit over regional HVAC standards may be nearing an end.

A proposed agreement was submitted March 11 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

It calls for the regional standards for air conditioners and heat pumps to go into effect Jan. 1, 2015. The industry will be given 18 months to sell existing stock. The regional HVAC standards for indoor furnaces, which have been on hold since 2012, will be dropped and the U.S. Department of Energy will propose new regulations.

According to the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, which represents equipment makers, the Energy Department has agreed to review and clarify the rulemaking process and work with the industry on enforcement.

AHRI President and CEO Stephen Yurek thanked wholesaler group HARDI for pressing the government through its lawsuit. When HARDI moved to continue fighting the regulations, the AHRI opposed the motion.

“This is a significant accomplishment for the industry, and it wouldn’t have been possible without Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International, Air Conditioning Contractors of America, and AHRI all coming together,” Yurek said. “The leverage HARDI created with its motion to get DOE to agree to the terms they agreed to will really help not only for today as we look at the regional standards going into effect for cooling equipment, but also for the future, for having a clearer picture of the DOE’s rulemaking process.” 

HARDI President Royce Henderson of the Charles D. Jones Co. said his association was pleased with the proposed settlement.

“Our goal from the start has been twofold,” Henderson said. “The first was to provide relief to our members who faced damages as a result of DOE’s actions. The second has been to fix the process, so this will never happen again. We believe this settlement accomplishes both goals to the greatest extent possible.”

Government accountability group Cause of Action represented HARDI in its fight with the Energy Department.

“We cannot thank the talented folks at Cause of Action enough,” Henderson said. “They have given a voice to the many small businesses that make up HARDI and have helped hold the DOE accountable.”

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America is also urging the court to accept the proposed settlement.

“It is our hope that the court will expeditiously accept this settlement to end this prolonged legal challenge,” said ACCA President and CEO Paul T. Stalknecht. “The settlement vindicates ACCA’s concerns about the DOE requiring condensing furnaces without regard for potential impact on homeowners. We are also pleased to see that our comments aren’t likely to be overlooked in any future rulemakings.  Now the industry can move forward to develop an enforcement plan for the regional standards on split-system and single-package central air conditioners.”