WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a pre-publication Federal Register notice in response to the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute’s (AHRI’s) petition for reconsideration of DOE’s final rule on energy efficiency standards for walk-in coolers and freezers (WICFs). DOE announced it is denying the petition.

AHRI sought reconsideration of the final rule based on its view that errors committed by DOE led to the adoption of standards that were neither technologically feasible nor economically justified. DOE said it must deny the petition on procedural grounds.

DOE noted that it adopted the WICF final rule in accordance with the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA). Unlike some other statutes governing standard-setting through rulemaking, EPCA does not provide a procedure for agency reconsideration of already prescribed final rules. Instead, the legal framework established in EPCA by Congress provides a means to seek amendment of DOE’s existing rules under certain circumstances, not reconsideration of a newly promulgated rule. Therefore, AHRI’s petition for reconsideration is procedurally improper.

Additionally, DOE said that even if it were to consider AHRI’s petition for reconsideration as seeking amendment to the WICF rule, AHRI would still fail to establish a valid basis for granting the petition. With regard to the required criteria, DOE may only grant such consideration if evidence is provided that the amended standard would result in significant conservation of energy, would be technologically feasible, and would be cost effective. DOE stated that AHRI does not establish a valid basis for amendment of the final rule because it seeks an amended standard that would increase the maximum allowable energy use or decrease the minimum required energy efficiency of a covered product, contrary to EPCA.

Further, DOE said that AHRI’s petition appears to reflect a misunderstanding of how to perform the calculations required to rate a given refrigeration component. Thus, AHRI’s petition is predicated on a flawed set of calculations and assumptions.

DOE said that a public meeting, which it has already planned for Oct. 22, 2014, will show stakeholders how to properly apply its test procedures.

For more information on updated standards for walk-in coolers and walk-in freezers, click here.

Publication date: 9/22/2014

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