September 30, 2019 View Web Version | Text Only Version
AHRI’s up-to-the-minute report to members about important policy issues affecting our industry at the national, state, and global level.
Federal Government Relations
Spending Deadline Punted to November 21

The Senate has passed House legislation (H.R. 4378) extending government funding at current levels until November 21, including riders reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program and the Export-Import Bank – two pieces of must-pass legislation for this fall. While continuing resolutions are common these days, what is unusual is that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was not passed on its own. The NDAA is usually the least controversial, signed separately, and first. However, the conference committee needs additional time due to chemicals-related legislative riders passed in the House and Senate versions of the NDAA, which did not match and have been the subject of extended talks. As a result, AHRI’s own amendment to the House version – related to variable refrigerant flow equipment – is now in limbo. The two chambers must decide whether to reach agreement on the remainder of the defense authorizations for 2020 in a “skinny version,” which would remove all riders, or whether there is a path to agreement on the two different versions.

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Senate Energy Marks Up Efficiency Bills

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a markup on a number of efficiency bills last week, including Portman-Shaheen (S. 2137). The legislation was reported out by a vote of 14 to 6, and now awaits Senate floor time. AHRI joined another coalition letter, similar to one shared in the prior subcommittee markup. Other bills being considered by the Committee and tracked by AHRI include:

  • S. 2300 - CIT Act of 2019: a bill to amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, to establish a program to incentivize innovation and enhance the industrial competitiveness of the U.S. by developing technologies that reduce emissions of nonpower industrial sectors, and for other purposes (Sen. Whitehouse, D-R.I.);
  • S. 2334 - 21st Century Energy Workforce Act of 2019: a bill to require the Secretary of Energy to establish the 21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board, and for other purposes (Sen. Cantwell, D-Wash.);
  • S. 2335 - Smart Building Acceleration Act of 2019: a bill to accelerate smart building development, and for other purposes (Sen. Cantwell, D-Wash.); and
  • H.R. 1420 - Energy Efficiency Government Technology Act: an act to amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to promote energy efficiency via information and computing technologies, and for other purposes (Rep. Eshoo, D-Calif.-18).
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EIA Projects Decline in Carbon Emissions

After a brief spike in emissions in 2018, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) now says it expects U.S. energy-related carbon emissions to decline by 2.5 percent this year, and that cooling demand has been lower for 2019 compared to 2018. In addition, the agency expects that natural gas and renewables will continue to increase in popularity over coal powered generation. The decline in emissions this year comes after emissions increased by 2.8 percent in 2018 — the largest year-to-year increase since 2010.  EIA reports suggest the higher emissions last year were more attributable to an unusually hot summer and cold winter, as well as increased manufacturing activity, and not to regulatory policies.

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Administration Releases Final Overtime Rules
The Department of Labor released a new final rule related to overtime requirements, replacing the 2016 version finalized under the previous administration, which had been undergoing legal challenges. The new rule will be effective in January 2020 – just under 100 days away - and would increase the standard salary level from $455 to $684 a week. This move will make employees earning less than $35,568 a year, eligible for overtime pay of at least time-and-a half, among other changes.
 
The current threshold of $23,700 was set by the George W. Bush administration in 2004; prior to that, it had been $8,060 since 1975.
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Energy Supply Forum This Week
The U.S. Energy Association will host its annual Energy Supply Forum October 2, at the National Press Club. The first panel will feature Dr. Susan Hamm, Director of the Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office. Dr. Hamm will discuss the findings of a recent DOE report, GeoVision: Harnessing the Heat Beneath Our Feet, which highlights the opportunities for geothermal to have a sizable role in meeting the nation’s 21st-century energy demands, and presents a path forward to increase the presence of geothermal in the energy sector.
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State Government Relations
State Legislative Overview

Eight state legislatures and Puerto Rico are currently in session. AHRI staff continue to monitor bills that align with state legislative priorities, and have identified 61 of interest. These bills address legislation on codes and standards adoption, energy supply, energy sourcing and buildings, hydrofluorocarbons, permitting compliance, energy standards or programs, right-to-repair, warranty, and workforce. To follow along as these bills move through the legislative process, or to find out more, please see the state legislative tracking sheet. For your reference, you can also access a handy  state legislative calendar.

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National Association of State Energy Officials Holds Annual Meeting

The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) held its annual meeting September 15-18 in California. AHRI Director of Government Affairs Allison Maginot attended the meeting which focused on Building a Clean Energy Economy for Everyone. The event brought together energy officials from the federal, state, and local levels of government, as well as representatives from the utility and industry sectors. Sessions focused on state actions and opportunities for achieving decarbonization of the economy; modernizing and creating highly renewable and resilient electric grids; fostering grid-interactive efficient buildings and developing load flexibility; advances in building codes; and energy security planning initiatives. Attendees also heard from key players in the energy arena, including California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister and California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols.

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San Francisco Joins U.S. Cities in Limiting the Use of Natural Gas

San Francisco joined the list of cities attempting to ban natural gas in new construction. City Supervisors Vallie Brown and Rafael Mandelman recently announced new efforts to phase out the use of natural gas in new construction. Brown’s legislation would ban natural gas in all new construction and major renovations of municipal buildings starting next year, while Mandelman’s would make it more costly and difficult for developers to construct buildings with natural gas. “We’re not going to meaningfully reduce emissions if we continue to construct buildings that use natural gas,” Mandelman said. “The world is in a climate crisis and San Francisco needs to lead the way.”

These announcements came after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Mayor London Breed approved an ordinance on September 17 requiring that commercial buildings over 500,000 square feet use electricity from renewable sources beginning in 2022; buildings from 250,000 to 500,000 square feet comply with the same requirements by 2024; and buildings 50,000 square feet or larger meet the same requirements by 2030. Banning natural gas in the building sector has been a new trend among several U.S. cities, as Berkeley, San Jose, and others aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. For additional information, please click here.

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Seattle Delays Proposed Ban on Natural Gas

A group of stakeholders recently succeeded in delaying a proposed natural gas ban in Seattle, in response to the sudden rise of municipal ordinances that prohibit gas for heating and cooking in new buildings. Puget Sound Energy - a gas supplier for Seattle buildings - was a major opponent that helped delay progress on the legislation.

In response, City Councilman Mike O’Brien postponed the vote by the sustainability committee. “I want to make sure to take the time to have meaningful conversations,” said O’Brien. “I don’t want to pretend this will ever not be controversial, but I think there’s more work to be done.”

Early in September, O’Brien introduced legislation that would ban natural gas systems in new residential and commercial buildings from July 2020. According to the legislation, which cites a 2016 city report, natural-gas use in buildings accounts for a quarter of Seattle’s total greenhouse-gas emissions. Natural-gas stoves can emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, which reduce air quality, the legislation also says. Click here for more information. 

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Global
AHRI Submits Comments to USTR on Section 301 Tariff Increase

AHRI’s submission to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) echoed its previous opposing comments (Round 1, Round 2, Round 3), re-emphasizing that the tariffs limit member company access to a global supply chain for components, while bringing about the following harmful economic consequences:

  • Increased costs for manufacturers and expected negative cost impacts on consumers.
  • A dampening effect on the industry's efforts to make more energy efficient equipment available in the marketplace.
  • An unintended hampering of the industry's ability to address climate change because of higher than necessary demand on the electric grid, due to reduced access to energy efficient equipment.

Please see AHRI’s members-only Tariff Tracker for more information on the Section 301 tariffs. 

On September 20, AHRI submitted comments to the USTR in response to a September 3 Federal Register notice concerning an increase of Section 301 tariffs from 25 percent to 30 percent on approximately $250 billion worth of imports from China on October 1. (The effective date of the increase has been changed to October 15 since the September 3 notice).

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Regulatory Update
SNAP Rulemakings Advancing in Climate Alliance States

On September 23 and 24, AHRI staff participated in stakeholder workshops in Maryland and Delaware, respectively, to advocate for the industry with respect to the regulation of high global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These two U.S. Climate Alliance states are promulgating rulemakings to enact vacated portions of EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy Programs (SNAP) rules 20 and 21, prohibiting certain HFCs in aerosol propellants, chillers, foam, and stationary refrigeration end-uses. AHRI staff is actively engaged in these rulemakings to ensure that harmonized regulations are proposed.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has proposed March 2020 as the deadline for its regulation. The next stakeholder workshop will be held in New Castle on October 8. Meeting information is available on the department’s regulatory development website. Maryland’s Department of the Environment plans to present a final version of its draft regulation to its regulatory advisory board on December 16, beginning the formal regulatory process which is intended to conclude in September 2020.

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AHRI Submits Comments to CARB on HFCs in Commercial Refrigeration Equipment

AHRI submitted a letter to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on September 20, responding to CARB’s request for additional input on its upcoming rulemaking for stationary commercial refrigeration equipment. AHRI responded to many topics, including definitions for refrigeration equipment, the feasibility of low-global warming potential (GWP) systems, whether equipment in new buildings can meet the 150 GWP limit by 2022, GWP limits for remote condensing units, refrigerant charge limits, refrigerant service GWP limits, and exemption processes.

AHRI proactively participates in the rulemaking process in California, providing feedback and industry perspectives to help CARB implement hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) regulations. Next, AHRI will hold a meeting with CARB staff during the week of September 30 to discuss refrigerant modelling related to AHRI’s proposals. 

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AHRI Sponsors IAPMO Conference and Promotes Safe Transition to A2L Refrigerants

AHRI sponsored and exhibited at the annual conference of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) last week in Reno, Nevada. AHRI staff provided IAPMO members and attendees information about the AHRI Safe Refrigerant Transition Task Force (SRTTF), upcoming regulations being proposed for refrigerants, background information on low global warming potential refrigerants, and other relevant information.

Three motions related to refrigerants were raised during the IAPMO hearing on UMC 2021. These motions were intended to update ASHRAE 15-2019, insert A2L language in table 1104.1, and update the reference to UL 60335-2-40 to the 3rd edition. None of the three motions was approved during this meeting. Subject matter experts with an interest in the SRTTF are encouraged to find more information online at www.ahrinet.org/SafeRefrigerant

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AHRI R&T Committee Approves Funding of New Testing Approach for Unitary Products

The AHRI Research and Technology (R&T) Committee recently met at the AHRI headquarters to discuss industry research needs and approved to fund a project that will evaluate the load-based testing approach for unitary products. The R&T Committee also recommended an assessment of the following research needs:

  • Low emission combustion technologies
  • Common venting
  • Electrification and decarbonization for gas-fired products
  • Refrigerant leak rates for installed equipment
  • Low-GWP refrigerant heat transfer characteristics
  • Low-GWP refrigerant property
  • Low-GWP refrigerant material compatibility and lubricant research

As one of the AHRI Standing Committees, the R&T Committee administers the AHRI research program, recommends and takes measures to promote research activities that strengthen the industry’s competitive position across the globe. 

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In This Issue
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Federal Government Relations
Spending Deadline Punted to November 21
Senate Energy Marks Up Efficiency Bills
EIA Projects Decline in Carbon Emissions
Administration Releases Final Overtime Rules
Energy Supply Forum This Week
State Government Relations
State Legislative Overview
National Association of State Energy Officials Holds Annual Meeting
San Francisco Joins U.S. Cities in Limiting the Use of Natural Gas
Seattle Delays Proposed Ban on Natural Gas
Global
AHRI Submits Comments to USTR on Section 301 Tariff Increase
Regulatory Update
SNAP Rulemakings Advancing in Climate Alliance States
AHRI Submits Comments to CARB on HFCs in Commercial Refrigeration Equipment
AHRI Sponsors IAPMO Conference and Promotes Safe Transition to A2L Refrigerants
AHRI R&T Committee Approves Funding of New Testing Approach for Unitary Products
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Resources
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State Legislative Tracking Sheet
Last updated 9/30/2019
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AHRI Staff
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Associate General Counsel
 
Anita Chan
International/Regulatory Affairs Specialist
 
Caroline Davidson-Hood
General Counsel
 
Nick Harbeck
Analyst, International Affairs

Jennifer Kane
Regulatory Engineer 

Michael LaGiglia

Director, International Affairs
 
Regulatory Advisor-Refrigeration Technology Lead
 
Allison Maginot
Director, Government Relations
 
State Policy Analyst
 
Regulatory Advisor-Cooling Technology Lead
 
Director, Government Relations
 
Vice President, Government Affairs
 
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs

James Walters
Vice President, International Affairs
 
Xudong Wang
Vice President, Research

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Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute
2311 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201

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