Refrigerants R-22, R-123, and the Montreal Protocol

I would like to offer a clarification on the story “HCFC Refrigerant Phaseout Gets Fine-Tuning” in the Oct. 22 issue ofThe NEWS. The article treated HCFC-22 and HCFC-123 separately, and gave the reader a misleading impression that R-22 will be phased down, but not R-123.

In fact, R-22 and R-123 are in the same basket as HCFCs. The Montreal Protocol has not made any distinction between these two refrigerants. The required reduction at 2010 from 65 percent to 75 percent for developed countries applies to all HCFCs, R-22 as well as R-123. The article gave the impression this would only apply to R-22. Also the 0.5 percent production for service only from 2020 to 2030 also applies to all HCFCs, not just R-123. The article gave the impression this applies to R-123 only.

However, I would venture to speculate that this very meager production (if still required) would go to whatever refrigerant is in critical shortage and could fetch the highest price in the market.

Another important provision of the new Montreal Protocol adjustment agreement is “to review in 2015 the need for the 0.5 percent for service.” This could mean that this service tail may have a chance of being eliminated in 2015.

Tony Digmanese
Director, Industry Relations
YORK/Johnson Controls

The Tech Shortage Elephant in the Room

[Editor’s note: This letter is in response to Mark Skaer’s editorial “Who Not to Blame for the Technician Shortage,” Nov. 12.]

I just wanted to point out what is, in my opinion, a huge elephant in the room, one that’s often not mentioned. I work as a trainer for a gas utility. Like everyone else, we have Baby Boom retirements and are in need of top-flight young techs (guys or women that pass periodic drug-alcohol testing as well as have a valid driver’s license) to learn our business.

We hired two from HVAC contractors recently who are fairly well-trained, one from an Arizona tech school, the other a union apprenticeship.

Both said the hourly pay wasn’t the issue, the issue was getting 40 hours a week of work that they could depend on. One said a few months of 32 hours a week is like a 20 percent pay cut - the guy is good at math.

To pay their bills, they took on side jobs, which their employers didn’t say too much about since they wanted to keep these guys.

This isn’t the 1930s, the top guys can choose jobs. Management has to figure out how to run a business so the employees can plan on a stable paycheck or, like pipeline welders, make so much when they do work that the bills get paid.

Dale Watterson
Senior Training Specialist
Madison Gas and Electric
Madison, Wis.

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Publication date:12/17/2007