11953182_s-copyUSA: A settlement has been has been reached in the court case between the AHRI and the US Department of Energy’s energy efficiency standards for commercial walk-in coolers and freezers.

The AHRI had argued that the DOE had made a number of mistakes in adopting the walk-in coolers and freezers rule. The DOE was accused of setting internally inconsistent standards that were unachievable using economically feasible technologies, performing flawed cost-benefit work, and of a failure to properly analyse small-business impacts. AHRI also noted that it had given DOE the opportunity to fix several of the Department’s errors in a petition for reconsideration. DOE maintained that it lacked the power to fix such errors without a court order.

“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 settlement, which still requires approval by the 5th Circuit, includes the following provisions:

Refrigeration standards for multiplex condensing systems at medium and low temperatures, and for dedicated condensing systems at low temperatures will be vacated. DOE will support the use of a negotiated rulemaking process concerning the vacated standards, with a targeted completion date of January 2016 for this negotiated rulemaking process.

DOE will align walk-in coolers and freezers refrigeration enforcement dates by issuing an executive branch policy making clear that it will not enforce the remaining refrigeration standards until January 1, 2020, provided that the anticipated negotiated rulemaking process delivers proposed standards to DOE by January 22, 2016. The walk-in coolers and freezers standards for doors and panels are not affected by the settlement.

DOE will consider and substantively address as part of the negotiated rulemaking process any potential impacts of the standards on installers and smaller manufacturers.

Within six months, DOE will initiate a public process to determine how it will address error corrections in future rulemakings. DOE has also committed to employ best efforts to finalize that process within one year of the settlement.

“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.”

Recent articles:

AHRI challenges walk-in cooler standardsAugust 4, 2014
USA: The US Department of Energy’s has again come under fire from the AHRI, with the industry body filing a court petition for a review of the DOE standards for commercial walk-in coolers and freezers. Read more…