WASHINGTON - Mitchell Cropp, president of Virginia-based contracting business Cropp-Metcalfe and a past chairman of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), testified before the House Small Business Committee during a hearing titled “Small Business Energy Priorities.”

Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) called the hearing to consider energy legislation pending before the House and Senate and its potential impacts on small businesses.

Cropp’s testimony focused on the provisions in the House and Senate bills that would allow the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop new minimum energy efficiency standards and apply them regionally on commercial and residential heating and cooling equipment. Current law sets a single minimum efficiency standard, known as AFUE for furnaces and SEER for air conditioners, that applies in all states. Under the House and Senate bills, the DOE could create three distinct regional standards each for the same products.

In presenting his testimony, Cropp represented ACCA and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association (PHCC), on behalf of HVACR contractors. ACCA and PHCC have worked together in opposing the regional standards provisions in the House and Senate bills due to the negative impact the associations say such standards would have on HVACR contractors and the customers they serve.

In his testimony, Cropp outlined a major flaw in the House and Senate bills, a viable enforcement mechanism that gives an advantage to unlicensed contractors. “As a contractor that serves multiple states, I am very concerned about the enforcement of regional standards along the borders between regions,” noted Cropp. “I see this scheme creating a ripe opportunity for moonlighters who could purchase lower efficiency equipment in one region and install it in an adjoining region.”

In place of regional standards, Cropp advocated for extending the current tax credits for consumers and small businesses who purchase high-efficiency products, along with support for H.R. 2389, Rep. Heath Shuler’s (D-N.C.) Small Energy Efficient Businesses Act. That act would encourage small businesses to upgrade by expanding eligibility under current federal loan programs to include energy efficiency improvements.

Publication date:10/22/2007