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Proposed Settlement Filed in Regional HVAC Standards Lawsuit

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A motion filed today in the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit could finally settle the ongoing legal battle over the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2011 rule setting new minimum energy conservation standards for a variety of residential HVAC products, including regional standards for furnaces and central air conditioners.

ACCA has created a detailed explanation of the settlement proposal and its impact on contractors. That document is available to download by clicking here (ACCA members only; login required).

ACCA was one of several parties of record in this case challenging the new standards and the short cut process by which they were set. This settlement motion expands on a similar settlement filed in January 2013 that was never accepted by the Court.

“It is our hope that the Court will expeditiously accept this settlement to end this prolonged legal challenge,” said Paul T. Stalknecht, ACCA president & CEO. “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.”

Under the terms of the proposed settlement:

  • Regional standards for non-weatherized natural gas and mobile home furnace are rescinded.
  • The DOE has two years to rewrite standards for non-weatherized natural gas and mobile home furnaces.
  • Pending regional standards for central air conditioners still go into effect on January 1, 2015.
  • 13 SEER central air conditioners manufactured before January 1, 2015, may be installed in South and Southwest regions during an 18 month grace period ending July 1, 2016.
  • The DOE will initiate stakeholder-led negotiated rulemaking on enforcement for regional standards for central air conditioners.
  • The DOE will initiate a rulemaking to clarify the expedited standard setting process known as the Direct Final Rule.
  • Should the Court accept the settlement motion, the legal challenge would end and the HVAC industry can prepare for the implementation of new standards that go into effect on January 1, 2015.

It could take up to a month for the Court to issue an order accepting the settlement. ACCA will notify you when the Court has accepted or rejected the settlement agreement.

You can download a copy of the proposed settlement agreement here.

Charlie McCrudden

Posted In: Government, Residential Buildings

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