> > Update on the Negotiated Rulemaking for the Enforcement of Regional Standards
The Working Group of stakeholders convened to negotiate an enforcement program for regional standards met for three full days in Washington, DC, last week. Several critical issues were discussed, but there is still a lot of ground to be covered before a proposal is finalized.
An enforcement plan is going to require more than just new language in the Code of Federal Regulations banning the installation of 13 SEER split system and single package central air conditioner equipment in the Southeast and Southwest regions after January 1, 2015. In order to be effective, the enforcement plan must consider making modifications to the yellow Energy Guide labels and a public awareness campaign so that manufactures, distributors, contractors, and homeowner all understand the new rules. Complicating the development of an enforcement plan is the fact that 13 SEER equipment will remain legal to install in the North region after the rules go into effect, and 13 SEER equipment manufactured before January 1, 2015, may be legally installed anywhere until July 1, 2016.
The stakeholders understand that most contractors are going to abide by the rules and the overwhelming majority of installations will be compliant. Contractors have a vested interest in seeing a robust plan that catches and punishes those complete illegal installations. It protects them from being underbid by fly by night contractors and strengthens the overall reputation of the industry. The goal is to develop a plan that discourages non-compliant installations without burdening contractors unnecessarily.
As it stands, there is really only one prohibited act in the law Congress wrote in 2007 regarding regional standards. It is unlawful for any manufacturer to knowingly sell equipment to a distributors or contractor with knowledge that they routinely violate the regional standard. In order for this provision to be effective and enforced, the term “routinely” must be defined. It means some threshold of violations must be set – it could be one or three or ten – and a record of violations must be tracked. This is just one of the many questions that must be resolved.
The Working Group will be meeting twice this week and is scheduled for several more sessions later this month. Interested contractors can follow the meetings via webinar.