California Makes National Waves

The issue of refrigeration equipment efficiencies is still a work in progress, at least until 2010. Just as with 13 SEER on the air conditioning side, there are questions about less efficient equipment already in the distribution pipeline. There are also questions about where each state is in regards to the issue. While California has testing procedures set up, questions were raised this year as to how other states, and eventually the federal government with its National Energy Policy, will certify equipment as meeting certain standards.
California put in place the California Energy Commission’s energy-consumption standards, providing minimum efficiency standards for a wide range of refrigeration equipment - along with an equally wide range of rebate incentives for installing such equipment. Those standards were adopted or are under consideration in several dozen other states and had made their way into the National Energy Policy Act signed by President George Bush in 2005, to take effect in 2010.

Robert Lehman, managing director of Emerson Climate Technologies Design Service Network, said that Energy Star originally started out as a voluntary program to recognize the best of the best in efficient equipment, but now has evolved into a virtual baseline for such products.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its first voluntary energy-consumption standards for commercial refrigeration and freezers in 2001 under its Energy Star program,” noted Lehman. “Several states, led by California, have since released legislation mandating maximum energy consumption, with effective dates from March 2003 through January 2008.

“Typically these standards were less stringent than Energy Star requirements, but over time they achieve the Energy Star recommended limits. The states are also releasing similar legislation to limit the allowable energy consumption of commercial ice cream freezers, vending machines, ice machines, and walk-in refrigerators and freezers.”
At this year’s 27th Annual Food Marketing Institute Energy and Technical Services Conference, Litchfield Park, Ariz., supermarket engineers warned against the continued usage of R-22.

Ken Welter says to move away from R-22 as soon as possible.

 “Every month of delay is further behind the curve,” noted Ken Welter, manager, Refrigeration Engineering, The Stop and Shop Supermarket Co.
Many manufacturers chose to stick with the philosophy: “Whatever California specifies, we will build out equipment to those efficiency standards, and we won’t have another set of less efficient equipment for other states.”
The process is not without its legal hurdles. In fact, one battle already reached the U.S. Supreme Court this year. The high court denied a request by Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute to hear an appeal of a lower court decision that said California Energy Commission energy-efficiency regulations could not be pre-empted by the Federal Energy Policy Conservation Act. Basically, the Supreme Court upheld the powers of the California Energy Commission to do what it was doing regarding energy-efficiency regulations, and the actions of California are continuing to infiltrate national policy.

Publication date: 12/25/2006

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