The regional energy standards saga continues. If you’re a Bel Red blog regular, you probably remember reading posts about the rollercoaster energy conservation litigation between the Department of Energy (DOE) and members of the energy industry, including the American Public Gas Association (APGA).
As we discussed in the first post on the subject, in July 2011 the Department of Energy published a direct final rule as part of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) that would require certain energy efficiency standards in different regions throughout the country. One of these regulations was the implementation of a minimum 90% Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) standard for non-weatherized gas furnaces in the northern regions. These standards were set to be implemented on May 1st, 2013. Many industry members, including the APGA, thought this was too extreme and challenged the new regional standards.
In January of this year, the APGA (along with industry members) and the DOE reached what appeared to be an agreement to settle the challenge. The settlement agreement would, among other things, vacate the energy conservation standards, including the 90% AFUE requirements for northern regions. The settlement agreement required court approval, which turned out to take longer than expected. With the May 1st, 2013 compliance date fast approaching, the settlement has still yet to be approved by the court. As we discussed in our most recent post on the topic, this delay has been causing much uncertainty within the industry. Without a ruling, many feared major problems when it came to installation and availability of certain furnaces. While some of these problems may still arise prior to an official court ruling, the Department of Energy recently released an important statement on the issue.