Court rejects refrigeration efficiency action

11573888_sUSA: Manufacturers of commercial refrigeration equipment must comply with new US energy efficiency standards by March 2017 after a US court rejected a challenge from industry.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) final rule on energy conservation standards for commercial refrigeration equipment, issued in March 2014, includes maximum daily energy consumption values as a function of either refrigerated volume or total display area for various equipment classes.

The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and Midwest manufacturer Zero Zone challenged the new rule on the grounds of being “impossible” to meet, and claimed that the DOE had failed to perform all the procedural steps required in formulating the standards. The subsequent court petition filed in June 2014 was consolidated with a similar challenge from NAFEM, the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers.

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit yesterday denied the petitions in their entirety and ruled in favour of the DOE, finding that the agency acted within its authority and within reason.

Expressing his disappointment the Court’s ruling, AHRI president and CEO Stephen Yurek also questioned the Court taking nearly a year after oral argument to issue its decision.

Stephen Yurek

Stephen Yurek: “a backwards way of handling rules”

In its petition the AHRI had argued that the DOE failed to follow its procedures and that its analysis was flawed. AHRI also raised concerns regarding DOE issuing test procedure amendments after amending efficiency standards.

“Issuing a test procedure after efficiency standards is a backwards way of handling rules, and makes it difficult for manufacturers to understand the impact of the new standards and to design equipment to comply with those standards, all while continuing to meet the needs of consumers,” said Yurek.

When the rule was issued in 2014, the AHRI argued that in the case of some of the 49 product categories covered the specified efficiency level was not at that time achieved by any models on the market. The deadline of March 27, 2017, was also as too soon for manufacturers to research, design, develop, and test new products.

Following yesterday’s ruling, Stephen Yurek said the decision provided further incentive for Congress to update the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, an over 40-year-old law that gives DOE’s its energy efficiency rulemaking authority. “Reforms are needed to provide stakeholders with an equal voice, greater certainty, and better transparency in the regulatory process,” the AHRI says in a statement.

The full ruling can be found here.

Related stories:

DOE faces court over impossible standards

Uncoordinated rules could devastate industry

AHRI calls for US energy efficiency reforms


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