DOE Grants AGA, APGA, NAHB and NPGA Request to Extend Comment Period on the “Future of Energy Codes Workshop” to July 31st.
As previously reported, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Building Technologies Office  held a virtual stakeholder workshop on June 22nd and 24th to “highlight leading advancements in energy codes, bringing together key stakeholders from across the design and construction industry to discuss recent code updates, upcoming trends, as well as opportunities and challenges that states and local governments face in code implementation.”  Attached is the presentation prepared by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) that was used at the workshops.  While participants supposedly had the opportunity to ask questions and share feedback with the group, the overall discussions and responses were not sufficient to obtain key information on what DOE was proposing to advance energy codes and specifically what  DOE believes the role of natural gas will be in future energy code provisions. DOE had requested comments by July 8th, to short of a period to obtain sufficient feedback on concerns from a number of stakeholders including AGA have on this issue.  To remedy this, AGA, the American Public Gas Association, the National Association of Home Builders and the National Propane Gas Association file a joint letter on June 30th  requesting a 45 day extension  from the time the DOE provides its report of the meeting and the presentations made at the workshop.  In response to the extension request, DOE issued a notice in today’s  Federal Register of an extension for public comments until July 31st. Unfortunately, DOE did not provide a summary report of the meeting which is essential to be able to provide constructive comments on a number of questions and comments concerning the efforts to include provisions in the energy codes that promote “electrifications” and some criticisms aired about the recent changes in the process of developing model energy codes. AGA will work with APGA, NAHB and NPGA in drafting comments and posing questions seeking more specific information on what DOE is seeking to  advance “Energy Codes” and the process they plan to pursue to accomplish that advancement. We will provide  a draft of comments on the workshop for the committees consideration.
Judge Rules that Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) Does Not Preempt the Berkeley Ordinance Banning Natural Gas in New Construction.

You may recall that in July, 2019,  the City of Berkeley, California enacted an ordinance the essential bans natural gas in new construction within Berkeley effective January 1, 2020. This ordinance began a series of California cities and some areas outside of California to initiate similar bans.  The California Restaurant Association (CRA)  legally challenged the City of Berkeley citing a number of reasons claiming  federal preemption by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (“EPCA”) as well as preemption from three areas of California law. CRA received support on its legal challenge  from the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Manufacturers,  the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute and  the Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue Association. On July 6, the court ruled that the Berkeley Ordinance was not preempted by EPCA or California’s laws. Attached is the order issued by the court. It remains to be seen if the courts action will be appealed.

DOE Begins Rulemaking on Energy Efficiency for Manufactured Housing.

In August DOE will publish a proposed rule implementing energy efficiency standards for manufactured housing. As part of that process,  DOE published a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Energy Conservation Standards for Manufactured Housing. The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has raised concerns with the DOE, HUD and the MHCC, and along with AGA and other stakeholders, has submit comments on the previous proposed rulemaking, to ensure any energy requirements results in reasonable and cost effective energy conservation standards. .Of specific concern raised in previous DOE rulemakings (specifically on appliances) for natural gas industry is the minimum efficiency requirements for natural  gas heating and water heating appliances that need to meet the federal requirement that they be economically justified and technically feasible. AGA and other stakeholders, have argued  in previous minimum efficiency rulemakings from DOE on manufactured housing gas furnaces,  that the minimum efficiency level proposed were not cost effective for the vast amount of manufactured homes. We will provide the August DOE proposed rule  when available.
AHRI Releases May 2021 Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipment Data.
For those interested in shipment trends for residential and commercial gas and electric storage type water heaters, residential gas and oil furnaces, electric heat pumps and air-conditioners, click here for the July 9, 2021 Air-Conditioning Heating, & Refrigeration (AHRI) Press Release that provides the May, 2021 U.S. Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipment Data. You will note substantial year-to-date increases in shipments of furnaces, water heaters, electric heat pumps, etc. reflecting the economic recovery the country is experiencing. You may also wish to share this information with other groups or individuals within your organization that would be interested in water heater and HVAC equipment shipment trends
State Codes Activity Update.

Attached  is a weekly feature of the “Friday Update” covering state code calendar activities as presented by the online utility “Fiscal Note,” which is sponsored by APGA and AGA Code and Standards. Please review the update and determine if there are state code activities that impact your service territory or organization.