U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit grants AHRI legal stay of May 1, 2013 compliance date for regional furnace standards.

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 regional furnace standards.

In granting the motion, the Court is legally preventing the Department of Energy (DOE) from applying the standards or enforcing them until the underlying case is resolved.

Earlier in April, in light of the looming May 1 compliance date and the lack of a Court ruling on the settlement, the DOE announced through an “Enforcement Policy Statement” that the agency would enforce the rules as if the settlement agreement had been accepted. While DOE’s announcement gave some relief from the uncertainty of the pending compliance date, the Court’s action today legally prevents the agency from enforcing the rules until the case is resolved.

Those standards, requiring residential non-weatherized natural gas furnaces to be installed in 30 northern states to have an AFUE rating of at least 90 percent, were finalized in 2011 with an effective date of May 1, 2013. Almost immediately those standards faced a legal challenge by the American Public Gas Association.

For now, the industry awaits the Court’s ruling on the proposed settlement, so that the DOE can start over again on writing new standards for furnaces. However, should the Court reject the settlement the case would go to trial.