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DOE and AHRI Reach Settlement
August 4, 2015

The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) has announced that a settlement has been reached in litigation that it brought against the Department of Energy (DOE) challenging DOE’s final rule, issued June 3, 2014, setting energy efficiency standards for commercial walk-in coolers and freezers (WICF). The settlement comprehensively includes all parties to the litigation, whether on AHRI’s side or on DOE’s side. In briefs filed earlier this year, AHRI argued that DOE had erred in numerous ways in adopting the WICF Rule – including by setting internally inconsistent standards that were unachievable using economically feasible technologies, by performing flawed cost-benefit work, and by failing to properly analyze small-business impacts. AHRI also noted that it had given DOE the opportunity to fix several of the Department’s errors in a petition for reconsideration. DOE maintained that it lacked the power to fix such errors absent a court order.

“It is unfortunate we had to file for judicial review, but we are pleased that we have been able to come to an amicable settlement agreement with DOE and other stakeholders,” said AHRI President and CEO Stephen Yurek. “We look forward to the negotiated rulemaking process that DOE agreed to support. This will ensure that the energy-efficiency standards vacated in the settlement for the relevant equipment types are achievable and will deliver the energy savings and continued product utility at reasonable prices that DOE and consumers both expect.”

The settlement, which still requires approval by the 5th Circuit, includes the following provisions:
• Refrigeration standards for multiplex condensing systems at medium and low temperatures, and for dedicated condensing systems at low temperatures will be vacated. DOE will support the use of a negotiated rulemaking process concerning the vacated standards, with a targeted completion date of January 2016 for this negotiated rulemaking process.
DOE will align WICF refrigeration enforcement dates by issuing an executive branch policy making clear that it will not enforce the remaining WICF refrigeration standards until January 1, 2020, provided that the anticipated negotiated rulemaking process delivers proposed standards to DOE by January 22, 2016. The WICF standards for doors and panels are not affected by the settlement.
DOE will consider and substantively address as part of the negotiated rulemaking process any potential impacts of the standards on installers and smaller manufacturers. Within six months, DOE will initiate a public process to determine how it will address error corrections in future rulemakings. DOE has also committed to employ best efforts to finalize that process within one year of the settlement.

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