WASHINGTON — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled favorably today on an emergency motion filed by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) requesting a stay of the May 1, 2013, compliance date for the implementation of regional furnace standards. The motion legally prevents the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) from applying the standards or enforcing them until the regional standards lawsuit is resolved.

The standards, which require residential nonweatherized natural gas furnaces installed in 30 northern states to have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of at least 90 percent, were finalized in 2011. The American Public Gas Association (APGA) then filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging the DOE rules. Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) joined in the legal challenge. A proposed settlement was finally reached in January 2013 that would rescind the rules for furnaces. However, the court has not yet ruled on the settlement agreement.

In March 2013, AHRI filed its motion for a stay. In April, DOE released an enforcement policy statement noting that it would not begin enforcing the furnace standards until the court rules on the settlement agreement. Today’s court ruling in favor of a stay offically prevents the DOE from enforcing the rules until the case is resolved.

The HVAC industry awaits the court’s ruling on the proposed settlement agreement, which would require the DOE to restart the rulemaking process.

Publication date: 4/29/2013