The AHRI and Department of Energy have agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the HVAC market group over the efficiency standards the government set for walk-in coolers and freezers.

Under the proposed agreement, the government will drop its refrigeration standards for medium- and low-temperature multiplex condensing systems, and for dedicated condensing systems at low temperatures. The government will propose new standards — with industry input —  and aim to complete rulemaking by the end of the year.

The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute said the original standards were inconsistent and economically unachievable.

“It is unfortunate we had to file for judicial review, but we are pleased that we have been able to come to an amicable settlement agreement with DOE and other stakeholders," said AHRI President and CEO Stephen Yurek. "We look forward to the negotiated rulemaking process that DOE agreed to support. This will ensure that the energy-efficiency standards vacated in the settlement for the relevant equipment types are achievable and will deliver the energy savings and continued product utility at reasonable prices that DOE and consumers both expect."

The government also agreed to consider the impact on small manufacturers and installers, and start a process to correct errors in future regulations, the AHRI added.

AHRI had little choice last year but to file for judicial review, since DOE was interpreting the law as preventing the Department from making corrections to any final rules – not just this one," said Yurek. "So, in addition to the opportunity to return to the drawing board and cooperatively develop lawful and rational standards for this equipment, this settlement will have the added benefit of providing a new means for addressing the error-correction issue in future rulemakings.  AHRI will closely monitor what emerges from this new DOE policy initiative to ensure that it will add the necessary transparency and accountability to the energy-efficiency rulemaking process, and reduce the need for future litigation."

The settlement must still be approved by 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.