HARDI members have added their collective voices to the chorus of those opposing an energy bill expected to pass the U.S. House this week.

The bill allows the Department of Energy to establish regional air-conditioner efficiency standards, something many HVAC groups and manufacturers have long fought. It also hikes mileage requirements for automobiles and gives tax incentives for the use of alternative fuels and energies.

A press release from the Heating, Refrigerating and Airconditioning Distributors International criticized the bill as “intended to appease” environmental groups.

Talbot Gee, vice president of HARDI, said the bill would not have the desired effect of reducing energy consumption.

“Every American who is concerned about high winter heating bills is about to get more bad news,” Gee said. “Regional standards will force consumers to spend more for new equipment, which will ensure that older, less-efficient systems will remain in place longer.

“Meanwhile, HVAC distributors in the Southeastern regions already sell 14-, 15- or even 21-SEER air-conditioning systems,” Gee added, referring to the equipment currently available that exceeds the new 13 seasonal energy-efficiency rating mandated in 2006.

“Is there a reason to force these systems on those who cannot afford them?”

The bill’s future with the Senate and President George W. Bush is uncertain. The White House issued a veto threat Monday, citing the higher taxes on oil and natural gas companies it contains, as well as a requirement that utilities use renewable energy for 15 percent of electricity sold by 2028.

Many Republicans in the Senate also oppose the renewable-energy mandate, raising the possibility of a filibuster.