The Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) today expressed disappointment at a decision by the U.S. Appeals Court for the Second Circuit in New York, which found that the U.S. Department of Energy did not follow proper procedures when it adopted a 20-percent increase in the minimum efficiency of central air conditioners.
"We are disappointed that such an important decision affecting homeowners in all 50 states should be determined on process rather than on the impact of the regulation on millions of people," said ARI President William G. Sutton. "We will take some time to review the court's decision with counsel and then make a decision on what options best serve consumers and energy conservation.
"Our options include requesting further review of the Second Circuit's decision and pursuing our challenge of the 13 SEER rule before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals," Mr. Sutton continued. "Unlike the Second Circuit's decision, which was based on procedural grounds, the Fourth Circuit would be reviewing DOE regulations to determine whether the standard was economically justified for consumers and manufacturers."
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a measurement of air conditioner efficiency. Under current DOE regulations, manufacturers of residential sized central air-conditioners cannot produce units below 10 SEER. ARI points out that, on average, the energy efficiency of a residential central air-conditioning system increased by about 50 percent over the past 25 years.
Following extensive hearings, DOE in May of 2002 published a 12 SEER standard for all central air-conditioners and heat pumps manufactured after Jan. 26, 2006. However, the Natural Resources Defense Council and others filed a suit against the DOE action, claiming that DOE had not followed proper procedures in the adoption of a 12 SEER rule.
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