The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced final rules regarding HCFC-22 equipment installation and servicing as well as production allowances of HCFC refrigerants. This ends almost 12 months of waiting since the rules were first proposed. The rules take effect Jan. 1, 2010.

The final rules reflected many of the changes the HVACR industry had asked for after the proposed rules were first published Dec. 23, 2008. Those changes were initially addressed in an EPA clarification published last Jan. 14 and the final rules pretty much fell in line with the clarifications.

“This is a positive outcome,” said Talbot Gee, vice president of Heating, Airconditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI).

“Our concerns were addressed in our favor,” said Charlie McCrudden, vice president of government relations for Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

Both associations held teleconference or Webinar events on Dec. 14 to give their perspectives on the final rules.

Gee highlighted what he called the “most significant outcomes” as:

• Servicing of existing HCFC-22 a/c and refrigeration systems will not be interrupted.

• There will be “no impact on existing inventories of components manufactured before Jan. 1, 2010.

• New installation projects have a two-year grandfather period.

He noted there is “no restriction of any product manufactured prior to Jan. 1, 2010 if used for servicing.” McCrudden said that means “R-22 components in stock do not become worthless.”

The equipment rule does differentiate between appliances and components and what constitutes the manufactured date for each.

Gee said the rule defines appliances as products able to deliver refrigeration or air conditioning while components are items such as condensing units, line sets, compressors, and TEVs.

The intent of the EPA rules is to steer the industry away from new installations using R-22. In fact, McCrudden said the industry manufacturers have pretty much moved away from R-22 equipment for new installations.

Both Gee and McCrudden said the EPA did allow a grandfather period through Dec. 31, 2011 for new projects that had building permits or contracts in place before 2010 but stalled because of legal issues or the overall construction slowdown.

Regarding the allocation of R-22, the EPA final rule allows production of 110 million pounds of virgin R-22 in 2010, but then builds in year-by-year reductions through 2014, whereas there was some speculation that the allocation would stay at 110 million pounds yearly for the next five years until another major drop off in 2015. Some industry officials said they believed the yearly step down was to increase industry dependence on reclaimed refrigerant.

At the time of the phone and Webinar events, both ACCA and HARDI said they would prepare fact sheets to answer frequently asked questions regarding the final rules.

Publication date:12/28/2009