ARI President William G. Sutton hailed the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed recently by President Bush, contains three historic consensus agreements between the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) and several energy-efficiency groups establishing national minimum efficiency standards on commercial package air conditioning equipment, commercial refrigeration equipment, and automatic commercial ice-making equipment.

The terms of the agreements, enacted into law through the energy bill, involves national minimum efficiency standards that will be effective on Jan. 1, 2010.

The law sets new, more stringent minimum-efficiency standards for packaged air conditioners and heat pumps (from 65,000- up to 240,000-Btuh cooling capacity) that are used in many commercial buildings, a 26 percent improvement.

In addition, the law will extend for the first time the federal standards program to:

  • Large package commercial air conditioners and heat pumps from 240,000- up to 760,000-Btuh cooling capacity;

  • Commercial refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator freezers used in restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, and other commercial buildings; and

  • Automatic commercial icemakers.

    These agreements were negotiated by ARI and energy-efficiency groups, represented by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

    ARI President William G. Sutton hailed the enactment of these agreements into federal law, stating it "helps manufacturers by creating a regulatory certainty that enables them to research and develop new models for 2010 that will meet both the new efficiency standards and EPA regulations to phase out the use of HCFC refrigerants that can deplete the ozone layer."

    According to ARI, the efficiency levels contained in the law will reduce peak power needs by an estimated 8,000 megawatts (MW) by 2020, which is equivalent to the output of 27 new power plants of 300 MW each.

    ACCA Happy, Too

    The recently signed energy bill also includes language proposed by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

    The bill instructs the Secretary of Energy, in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration, to educate homeowners and small-business owners about the energy savings gained by having their HVACR systems properly maintained.

    "Consumers can do some maintenance themselves," said ACCA president and CEO Paul T. Stalknecht, "but the only way to make sure a system is running in top-notch form and operating at optimum efficiency is to have it checked and serviced on a regular basis by a professional HVACR contractor. This is an important victory for ACCA."

    Paul Stalknecht called the new energy bill “a victory for ACCA.”
    According to Stalknecht, the comprehensive energy bill validates the association's American Living campaign, launched in 2003. American Living: The Campaign for Sustainable Comfort is a public education and advocacy program that highlights the importance of properly sized, installed, and maintained HVACR systems and shows that the industry is taking the lead in the energy conservation effort.

    "However, it is just one step toward energy independence," he said. "We will continue to work with the administration and Congress to promote preventive maintenance by professional HVACR contractors as a key component of our nation's strategy to reduce energy usage."

    One Setback

    ACCA was disappointed that the bill repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act. It said it will continue to have a dialogue with Congress to address the problem of unfair competition from public utilities.

    Several senators have agreed to hold further hearings regarding the subject and have directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to prepare an investigative report.

    ACCA member Brian Harvey, president of H & C Inc., Laurel, Md., recently testified before the House Small Business Committee on this issue.

    "ACCA members are not opposed to competition," said Stalknecht. "On the contrary, they welcome it. But they do believe the playing field should be level."

    The senators calling for additional discussion include Sam Brownback, R-Kan.; Russ Feingold, D-Wis.; Pete Domenici, R-N.M.; and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.

    "ACCA members play a vital role in the nation's economy and in their communities," Stalknecht concluded. "We are proud to be their voice on Capitol Hill."

    Publication date: 08/22/2005