WASHINGTON -- In a settlement filed late Friday afternoon, the Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to withdraw the pending minimum energy conservation standards that include regional standards for residential non-weatherized and mobile home gas furnaces. ACCA, the nation’s largest association of indoor environment professionals, joined the case last year as an Intervenor aligning with the American Public Gas Association (APGA) who challenged the Direct Final Rule in a suit brought in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
 
According to the terms of the settlement, which must be accepted by the Court, the portions of the Direct Final Rule setting the minimum AFUE standards for residential non-weatherized and mobile home gas furnaces at 90% in the Northern region and 80% in the Southeastern and Southwestern regions are vacated, along with the pending May 1, 2013, compliance date.
 
The DOE also agrees that it will initiate a new rulemaking for minimum energy conservation standards for residential furnaces and allow stakeholders the opportunity to comment.
 
"Should the Court accept this settlement, this would be vindication for ACCA and its members," said Paul T. Stalknecht, ACCA president and CEO. "Our comments during the rulemaking process outlining the additional costs to homeowners to properly address venting and condensate installation requirements of condensing furnaces were ignored. This settlement would restart the rulemaking for furnaces and allow ACCA to participate further in the process and for the DOE to recognize the problems associated with requiring condensing furnaces in the Northern region.”
 
If the Court accepts this settlement, non-condensing furnaces would remain legal to install in all states until the DOE can write new regulations. Not only does this clear up the uncertainty about stranded inventory in Northern region ahead of the May 1 deadline, but it also give industry stakeholders the opportunity to be involved in the creation of any future rules.
 
The portions of the Direct Final Rule setting new minimum energy efficiency standards for central air conditioners and heat pumps, including any regional standards, remain in place, along with the January 1, 2015, compliance date.
 
The settlement is still pending the Court's approval.
 
For questions about the pending settlement, email charlie.mccrudden@acca.org